It's the good, the bad, and the ugly as it relates to garbage collection issues in Lower Towamensing Township.
First, the good: the township's board of supervisors unanimously agreed on Tuesday to award a five-year garbage contract in the amount of $1,030,000 to McAuliffe Hauling & Recycling, Walnutport.
McAuliffe - the township's current garbage collector - turned in the lowest proposals out of three companies that bid on one, three and five-year contracts.
Supervisors Chairman Ron Walbert said the contract figures to save the township about $120,000, or $24,000 per year.
"This is really good bid numbers," Walbert said. "The garbage rate will stay the same for next year at least."
The township currently has a five-year contract with McAuliffe that is set to expire April 2.
Next, the bad and the ugly: Walbert reiterated that the township continues to have problems with residents who are delinquent on their garbage bill payments.
"We have a serious delinquency with people not paying their garbage bills," Walbert said. "I think it's time we address that."
Walbert said the matter continues to escalate at an alarming rate.
"We have $52,747 outstanding of people not paying their garbage bills," he said. "There are a lot of people who haven't paid for years and don't plan to."
Walbert then suggested the township grant a 60-day grace period for residents who have past due balances.
But, Supervisor Todd Solt said he felt the township should turn the matter over to a collection agency.
"They've had quite a few years to pay the bills and haven't," Solt said. "I don't think we should give them another 60 days."
At that, supervisors agreed to adopt a garbage resolution, and to have township secretary Christine Wentz contact several collection agencies to get price estimates for the matter to be turned over to.
Resident Herman Bollinger told supervisors the township should have set aside money in its coffers over the years so that it wouldn't be in such a predicament.
"What the township should have done is dumped some money in the kitty so that they had money from the taxpayers collected so that they could pay it," Bollinger said. "And, they're sending the bills to the taxpayers, but the taxpayers didn't make this bill; the supervisors did."
Further, Bollinger said "this here is not the right way to collect garbage", and added it's a common practice that occurs in other townships as well.
Last month, supervisors agreed to look into the possible creation of a garbage collection ordinance.
Walbert suggested that the township needs to make the penalties more rigid for those who choose not to pay.
In January, Walbert said township secretary Christine Wentz conducted a cursory review of the township's garbage collections in which it was discovered it had another large outstanding balance.
Based on the fall garbage bills that were mailed out as of that time, Wentz said there were 216 delinquent notices out of the 1,111 that the township bills for.
At a rate of $125, that equates to $27,000 owed to the township.
In September, supervisors adopted a garbage exempt form in order to grant relief to residents on their garbage bills who have unoccupied properties for six months until the unit is again occupied.
However, as per the form, residents must notify the township in writing immediately and request that garbage fees begin as soon as their property becomes occupied.
In the event residents fail to notify the township that the property is occupied, and the township finds out by anybody other than that particular resident, they will not only owe the garbage fees from the date that the property becomes occupied, but will also owe the garbage fees from the date of the request and that any exemption granted by the supervisors shall be null and void.
That decision came after supervisors in August tabled a motion to grant residents a six-month waiting period to pay their garbage bills on unoccupied properties after it was defeated due to a lack of a second.
In July, supervisors said they might make an amendment to the ordinance. That came after supervisors in March agreed to hold residents who are delinquent on their garbage bills accountable by billing them for garbage rates on empty properties.
At that time, supervisors agreed that township residents who owed $500 or more on their garbage rates would be sent to the district magistrate. Walbert said at that time the township was owed $31,408 in delinquency bills, and that out of 63 residents who were delinquent on their garbage bills, 18 owed $500 or more.