Many of the county tax bills have gone out over the past few days, and most of the complaints are coming in from East Ridge.
Trustee Bill Hullander said his office has received a number of calls from owners of vacant lots in East Ridge who for the first time are seeing a garbage bill on their property tax bill.
On Thursday night, East Ridge Council members indicated they are planning some adjustments in those bills. Officials said they may not charge those whose lots are "landlocked," and Mayor Brent Lambert said others in that category may have to pay far less. However, City Manager Tim Gobble cautioned the council members to proceed with caution, saying they could end up in a deficit situation. The total income involved on the vacant lot garbage fees was put at $96,000.
The trustee's office is handling the garbage bills for East Ridge since the Tennessee American Water Company is no longer putting them on the water bill.
Mr. Hullander said there are 536 vacant lots in East Ridge. He said in the past they did not get a sanitation bill from the water company if there was no water meter on the lot.
He said, "Many of these do not have water meters. In some cases, the $180 sewer bill is over twice the amount of the property tax bill."
The trustee said his office is sending all the East Ridge calls to East Ridge City Hall.
He also said that the trustee's office "will not be involved in trying to collect from anyone who does not pay the East Ridge fee. We will send them a list of those who do not pay and it will be up to them to try to collect."
Mr. Hullander said his office is set up to accept partial payments - both the property tax and the East Ridge sanitation bill. But he said anything that is not paid in full by the first of February will start to accrue interest.
East Ridge is paying the county $30,000 a year for the garbage billing service. The trustee's office is turning over the income to the city monthly.
He said this year his office is putting the tax notices in envelopes and including a return envelope.
Notices for those who own three or more parcels will be sent out next week. Each multiple-tract owner will get all their bills "in one envelope," he said.