Scranton Finds Itself Strapped For Cash, Sends Out 10 Years’ Worth Of Garbage Bills

When we’re strapped for cash it’s time to dive for the couch cushions and stick to a ramen regimen, but when Scranton finds itself low on funds, it simply sends out 7,800 delinquent garbage bills, totaling about 10 years’ worth. It’s trying to boost revenue but many residents are ticked off at this trash collection.

The Scranton Times-Tribune says the city treasurer’s office was filled with customers this week either paying off those bills or contesting them, claiming they had been erroneously issued.

Property owners can cough up a proof of payment like a receipt or canceled check and the office will mark that bill as paid, but it’s going to be a slow process.

“We’re handling them on an individual basis,” the treasurer told the paper.

While he didn’t have a total amount for the delinquent fees, other city officials had said in the past that garbage bills pull in around $700,000 to $800,000. These bills go back to 1999, which means the city could soon be swimming in cash.

Typically, the notices of delinquent bills get mailed in late January to mid-February, but this year there was a transition to a new collection agency, which delayed the process.

That same transition mucked up the city’s ability to easily figure out which property owners still owed some or all of their $178 annual fee for the last 10 years. Instead, the collection company was authorized to use the city’s written records to put together a database of who still owed money.

With all the fee disputes and flood of residents coming in to deal with their bills, the treasurer is forecasting long lines.

“I imagine this will go on for a while,” he said in what we can only imagine was a wry manner.

Scranton sends out delinquent garbage bills from 1999 through 2011 [Scranton Times-Tribune]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.