Unpaid Trash Bills Are Costing Council Bluffs

If you pay your bills and your taxes on time and you live in Council Bluffs, this might ruffle your feathers. In roughly one of every five Bluffs households, the bill payers are not paying the garbage tab.

Michael Lopez lives in Council Bluffs and he says, "Pay the bill. If they pick up the trash, pay the bill."

While Michael understands the concept, out of 28,000 households in Council Bluffs, approximately 5,000 aren't paying up for trash collection.

The city has a contract with Red River Waste Solutions to pick up garbage. Without that money coming in, the city has to dip into its reserves to pay Red River.

Right now, when a citizen doesn't pay up, they'll get a small monthly fine and the city will put a lien on their property.

Delinquency doesn't affect a non-payer's credit. That's something Mayor Matt Walsh thinks those people consider to be a loophole.

He said, “In my mind, it's taking advantage of the system. But again, I'm sensitive to the fact that some people are on limited incomes and they do what they can do, and so it's a little frustrating."

The mayor said he doesn’t want to stop trash collection for delinquents because he doesn't want trash piling up all over the city.

Walsh said he’s looking at another fix: combine the trash pickup bill with the water and sewer bill. If you don't pay that bill you'd lose water and power.

Lopez is on board. He said, “It's a good idea. Combining the bills like that would be, I think it's a very feasible thing to do.”

Mayor Walsh said it's taking another step to try and solve an age-old problem in the city.

He said once delinquents pay the liens on their property, the funds are returned to the city's cash reserves but this is still costing the city in administrative costs. The municipal hit tops $1 million a year.

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