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Whitesville Mayor Freddie Harless said the town has started the process of collecting on delinquent garbage accounts.

WHITESVILLE — The town of Whitesville is in the process of cutting off delinquent garbage customers.

With delinquencies approaching a total of $17,000, Whitesville needs the missing funds to pay for law enforcement and street lights, like so many other small communities across the state.

Members of Town Council discussed the problem at last week’s regular session, which had been moved from its original date because of scheduling conflicts.

“We know that people are struggling, and we hate to do this, but we’ve got to collect on these accounts because the town relies on that revenue to operate,” Mayor Freddie Harless said. “We consulted with the city of Madison, who has seen some of these same problems, and they’ve been very helpful to us. We’ve talked to the Boone County Magistrate’s Office and they’ve been very helpful in figuring out what we can and can’t do legally.”

Harless said taking delinquent account holders to civil court isn’t a preferred action, but it could be on the table when the town finishes thorough research into its options.

“We don’t want to get to a place where we cut people off and we have garbage piled up all over town,” he added. “Then, I’ve had people tell me that they are entitled to have their garbage picked up and they aren’t going to pay the bill.”

Whitesville citizens pay $19 per month for pickup twice per week under current billing.

“This pays for garbage collection, our police and our streetlights,” he added. “This isn’t an unreasonable fee.”

Another problem that has been addressed is that the town was picking up garbage for citizens who weren’t signed up for the service.

“We’ve had to evaluate this whole process,” Harless said. “We’ve identified those people and we are considering having stickers made that our garbage customers will attach to their cans that show they are current. We don’t want to have to do that, but this is where we are and it looks like our best option for tracking this. We are researching this right now to see what it will take to start that process.”

Harless said cameras and signs have helped curb the problem of some non-customers tossing bags of garbage into the back of town trucks in the middle of the night.

Harless said collection efforts brought in an additional $2,000 in June, and he hopes such results will continue through bookkeeping efforts.

Officials say a percentage of that debt was accumulated by customers who have moved out of the town, leaving an unpaid balance.

“We are committed to this and we want to work with people who are willing to make an effort to get themselves current,” Harless said. “We just want people to communicate with us and we can figure this out together and they won’t lose their service, but we have to address this.”

The Whitesville City Council meets at 6 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month at the council’s chambers at 39140 Coal River Road. Call 304-854-2658.

Reporter Phil Perry can be reached at pperry@hdmediallc.com or at 304-307-2401.