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County looking at issues involving surcharge opt-outs

October 20, 2010
Steve Schulwitz

There are still a few more hurdles that must be overcome before Alpena County can accurately implement a $10 surcharge to residents for the local recycling effort. The first thing needed is the list from the townships of the taxpayers who will receive the hike on their winter taxes.

During the Alpena County Finance Committee meeting on Wednesday, Equalization Director Gerald Halas said he has yet to receive any of the needed information from the townships, and if he doesn't soon the surcharge won't be added to the tax billings.

"I'm still waiting for the lists from the townships with the names of the people who are going to get charged," Halas said. "(If) I don't have the information it can't go on the tax bill. It is as easy as that."

Some people in Alpena County have decided to opt out of paying the $10 fee and by doing so they give up the services the program offers. Some, however, have indicated they will not fill out an opt-out application and when the tax bill arrives will just pay the amount, minus the surcharge. If that occurs, Alpena County Treasurer Joelyn McCallum said the money will get paid one way of another. She said if the resident doesn't pay it, those who are in charge of the program will.

"If that happens the $10 balance will become delinquent and it will remain that way until it is paid," McCallum said. "I won't be able to foreclose on there home, but we could take them to small claims court and add fines and late fees to the balance."

McCallum said if all else fails a bill will be sent to the Northeast Michigan Council of Governments to pay for those who don't pay.

"If I have to I will have to do a charge back with NEMCOG. Just like I would have to do with the townships with the regular taxes," McCallum said. "I am giving them $30,000 up front and then they have indicated they will make monthly withdrawals, so I will have the money anyway. Let's just hope the people who don't want to pay use the opt-out option, so we don't have to go through with all of that."

In other Alpena County news:

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via e-mail at or by phone at 358-5689.



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