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Council must use debt collectors as waste bill dodgers rack up €22m

DUN LAOGHAIRE Rathdown County Council is to employ a debt collection agency to obtain over €22m owed by residents and businesses for waste services.

The council has tendered for a debt collection service which it says will be "reputable" and will comply with industry guidelines.

A council spokesperson told the Herald that debt collectors are needed where the council's own efforts to secure payment have been exhausted.

"By December 31, 2009, there was €22m outstanding on domestic waste charges. This is the cumulative sum outstanding since domestic waste charges were introduced on January 1, 2000."

But it is expected that the council will forgo "a very considerable portion" of these bills as a result of householders asking for them to be waived.

The spokesperson added: "There is no deadline on applying for a waiver. It is the council's experience that householders only apply for a waiver when their service is discontinued or they are threatened with ... legal action."



Outstanding

Meanwhile, there was €383,000 outstanding on commercial waste accounts at the end of 2009, which includes unpaid bills since 2001.

The council employed three debt collection agencies on a trial basis in 2008, leading to successful results.

Dun Laoghaire Rathdown insists that it recruits debt collection agencies only when there is no other option.

"Prior to referring the debt to a debt collection agency for collection, the council, in addition to issuing bills three times per year, writes to all householders twice more requesting the householder to pay their charges in full or enter into an instalment arrangement to pay their charges," said the spokesperson.

It is expected that the debt collection agency will be appointed by June.

The council provides a waste collection service to around 25,000 residential and commercial customers.

The debt collectors will focus only on those accounts that are not paid within the specified time limits.

The spokesperson added: "While the majority of our customers pay their accounts within the specified time periods a minority do not."

hnews@herald.ie


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