- Northeast Revenue Service—the company that collects Scranton, PA's past due garbage collection fees—has filed 2,420 liens on delinquencies from 2011-13 totaling nearly $1.5 million.
- The city's annual fee is $300 and it sends more than 20,000 collection bills each year.
- Scranton Mayor Bill Courtright's administration authorized Northeast to impose these liens in 2014 and the process began last fall. So far the company has collected $1.8 million.
Scranton has tried multiple approaches to recouping money owed on collection fees. In 2013, the city created an online database for residents to check their payment status and published a 15-page list of delinquent accounts in the local newspaper. This most recent method has been quite successful, with residents paying up $460,000 in one month.
This method of public shaming has also been used elsewhere in the state. In 2014, the city of Erie published an even longer list of delinquent accounts on its website after a similar amount of unpaid debt was accumulated.
Scranton isn't the only city experiencing this frustration. Waste Management recently announced that it would stop collection entirely for customers in Bremerton, WA who aren't paying. In 2014, about 20% of customers had unpaid bills and the company lost out on hundreds of thousands of dollars. Anyone that doesn't pay and puts their trash on the curb could receive a ticket in case the message still doesn't get through.