Billing Mechanism Allowing For Tax Liens, Foreclosure Over Unpaid Garbage Collection Fees Reaches Georgia High Court
- The Supreme Court recently heard oral arguments by attorneys for Robert Mesteller, a Snellville resident who is taking on Gwinnett County about its way of collecting payment on sanitation services. The issue is that the money is collected on tax bills, something Mesteller claims is illegal and unconstitutional.
The outcome of Mesteller’s appeal won’t be heard for several weeks. However, even if it fails, state Rep. Brett Harrell, whose district includes Snellville and parts of Loganville and Grayson, is also taking on the issue. He is re-introducing legislation in January to prevent municipalities using tax bills to collect anything other than taxes. Harrell said his reason for re-introducing House Bill 291 is not opposition to any particular program, just with the billing mechanism.
“In Georgia, we have non-judicial foreclosure; so, the lien is placed on your home and you are not even afforded an opportunity to stand before a judge and plead your case - again for non-taxes,” Harrell said, adding he had 60 co-signers to the bill when originally introduced. He acknowledges that he does face opposition.
“The associations of Counties and Cities representing corporate government rather than the citizens of those counties and cities are the primary opponents at the capitol. Around the state, the opponents are those elected and staff members that are more concerned with revenue to the corporate government rather than protecting those they serve.”
Gwinnett County officials, however, say that if either Mesteller’s lawsuit or Harrell’s legislation is successful, the outcome might not be so good for county taxpayers. Joe Sorenson, communications director for Gwinnett County, warns that if the county were unable to bill for solid waste and recovery services via the property tax billing system, it would have to create a new billing system or significantly modify an existing one.
Se also, Ga. Supreme Court to Take A Look At Gwinnett Trash Plan.