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Board tells Fort White resident Too Bad • You have to pay

Columbia County Florida (posted Dec. 4, 2008)
By Stew Lilker

(Garbage -- Part I)
(Garbage -- Part II)

It was nothing new for a Columbia County resident to complain about being over assessed for garbage pickup and the County Commission meeting of November 20th was no exception. The majority of complaints have come from seniors living alone or those sensitive about the environment. The usual result is lip service from the Board, preceded by long time district one Commissioner, Ronald Williams, getting on his soap box and giving the resident the third degree and a tongue lashing.

Fort White resident, Billy Ray Franks, reserved a place on the agenda to present his case. He said, "I haven't used the solid waste for three years. I recycle my own. I live alone. I don't have much. I've tried for three years for them to take this solid waste off of my taxes, but I haven't been able to."

Commissioner Williams, "What do you do with your solid waste, sir?

Mr. Franks explained, "My garbage I put in my compost. My paper I burn in my wood stove. I sell my tin cans and aluminum cans. I spend most of the summer up in North Carolina, about half and half, actually."

Commissioner Williams, "So you burn your garbage?

Mr. Franks explained again, "No, I put the garbage in the compost."

Commissioner Williams told Mr. Franks, "Well, unfortunately, there is no provision to not charge you special assessment for solid waste, although you said you don't use it."

Commissioner Williams, demonstrating once again that he doesn't understand the difference between an assessment and a tax, told Mr. Franks that he pays taxes to the LSHA and the School District, although he doesn't use them.

Garbage pickup is a fee for service, an assessment and not a tax. There are many communities that develop alternative strategies for handling this issue.

Mr. Franks, who didn't complain about paying his fair share of taxes, told Com. Williams, "Maybe you make more money than I do."

Commissioner Williams lectured Mr. Franks, "... You cannot be exempt just because you say you don't use it. There is no mechanism in place for this board to exempt someone simply because they say they don't use the service, which is solid waste at this time."

Chairman Weaver addressed the Board, "Any desire from the board to change that?"

Commissioner Stephen Bailey was the only Board member to respond, "I think we're opening something we don't want to get if we start exempting anything like that."

Without any further discussion, the Board denied Mr. Franks request to have his garbage assessment waived because he didn't use the service. 


The frustration was written all over Billy Ray Franks as he addressed the Board

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