Carrick Town Council is initiating legal action against seven householders, who have failed to pay their domestic refuse charges bills.
The Council’s February meeting heard that €62,000 in refuse charges bills remain unpaid two years after the local authority ended its household refuse collection service. The outstanding bills range from €800 to €2000, according to Town Clerk Michael O’Brien.
The Council has taken the step of pursuing legal action in seven sample cases after all other efforts to get the money owed have failed. Mr O’Brien indicated that once these cases are completed the Council will review all other outstanding cases..
If a case goes to the district court, the Council will secure a judgement against the debtor. If they still don’t pay the bill, it will be open to the Council to secure a court order directing the County Sheriff to seize goods from the debtor and sell them on to raise the money owed plus costs.
Cllr Patsy Fitzgerald (Ind) said he believed it was “heavy handed” to send in the County Sheriff to go after these bills and asked if the Council would consider writing off outstanding debts.
Cllr David Dunne (SF) wondered if the cost of pursuing legal action was more than the money owed in these cases?
Cllr Richie O’Neill (Ind), a former Council refuse collector, said the Council was partly to blame as it allowed refuse bills build up for three years without stopping the bin collection service.
Mr O’Brien agreed too much forbearance was shown to these customers and the refuse collection service should have been withdrawn earlier. But he didn’t think Council officials were entirely to blame as councillors had come to them requesting the service be retained for customers in arrears with payments. He said the cost of taking legal action to date didn’t exceed the money owed. He stressed that pursuing legal action was a last resort for the Council and in cases where the write off of bills was justified it had already been done. “It’s unfair on people who have paid up if we don’t pursue those who haven’t paid. I have no hesitation in pursuing those who haven’t paid,” he said.