- 600 addresses in Bradford, PA account for $176,000 in unpaid garbage bills according to research from The Bradford Era. The Era got its information from the city, requesting data on accounts that were more than five months behind in the $20-per-month residential garbage fee. Bradford is considering hiring a collection agency to recover the lost revenue and may file lawsuits against the most delinquent customers.
- The Era article, which focused on customers who owed at least $400 — or were 20 months behind for residential customers — included names that Mayor Tom Riel was surprised to learn made the list. Riel said at least some of the named customers may have made payments since the list was handed over to the Era; or that they may have moved, passed away, or they're a business owner whose company no longer exists.
- Bradford plans to take a new approach to hold delinquent customers accountable, realizing they will continue putting their garbage on the curb every week to be collected knowing they can do it at no cost.
The city picks up garbage regardless of whether a customer has paid, to mitigate public health and safety risks. But in the long run, the people who have not contributed to the problem experience consequences, as does the city in the way of revenue loss.
"People should have to pay for it. I wish it could be treated as a criminal act as theft of services," said Riel. "When many of these people are approaching two years behind on their garbage bill, then there’s a problem. It’s one thing to fall a month or two behind. A year and eight months behind is unacceptable."