About 3,000 Macon-Bibb County residents have signed a petition against what one organization has labeled an unfair garbage tax.
Sarah Hunt, president of the local chapter of the National Action Network, says the goal is to get at least 10,000 signatures from registered voters in order to take the petition to court to try to get the annual garbage payments repealed.
Last year, the County Commission approved moving from quarterly to annual billing to try to collect a higher percentage of garbage and recycling fees.
Several Macon-Bibb commissioners argued at that time that it was unfair to place the burden of an annual bill on residents.
Hunt said the annual payments adversely affect senior citizens and others living on fixed incomes. She said she also opposes liens, or a claim on someone's property, potentially being placed because of delinquent payments, and she said the fee can be charged to uninhabited properties
The petitions are being placed at barbershops and beautify shops, various churches and at County Commission meetings.
"We are asking all of the citizens of Bibb County, those that are registered voters, to join us in this repeal," Hunt said during a Tuesday news conference at the Macon-Bibb County Government Center. "We read the Georgia state Constitution and it says as citizens we have a right to go to the court and ask that this ordinance be repealed because it’s an unfair and unlawful ordinance."
Macon resident Joe Powell said he's forced to pay the fee on a rental property that's doesn't even have a garbage container.
"I have a house that’s boarded up, been vacant for 20 years with no water, … and yet I got a bill from (the county) saying I’m gong to have to pay $20 a month for garbage fees," he said.
There are some ways for people to either avoid paying the fees or only making them on a monthly basis.
Residents can apply for some exemptions based on income level or disability.
Also, a mortgage company may agree to add the bill to the escrow, thus allowing monthly payments.
The deadline to make payments in 2018 is April 1. Starting this year, the bills will be sent out at the same time as property tax bills.
The move to annual payments came a year after garbage and recycling fees increased to $20 a month for Macon-Bibb property owners.