GRANGEVILLE – In May, the Idaho County Commission discovered a mountain of uncollected garbage bills which have been piling up since 1987 on account of a flaw in the county’s billing system. Last Thursday, July 24, board chairman James Rockwell sent the Nez Perce Tribe a letter requesting payment of more than $327,000 and asking the tribe to budget more than $19,000 per year to cover garbage collection on tribe-owned property in Idaho County.
It’s the second time the county has written to the tribe about it; the first letter got no response.
Here’s how Rockwell described the problem to Chairman Silas C. Whitman on May 29: “Basically, Idaho County has historically sent out its annual garbage utility fee attached to each property tax bill. As you know, Nez Perce Tribe owned lands do not receive a property tax bill. As a result of this fact, our billing system also omitted the garbage utility bill for the Nez Perce Tribe owned properties. One is a tax, the other is a utility bill. The oversight dates back at least 28 years.”
“We think approximately 92 rural residential units and 15 city units are affected,” Rockwell wrote. “The current annual fee assessed a rural unit is $198.22 and for a city unit, $13.80.”
The July 24 letter puts the number of rural units at 95 and notes the commission is “having a more difficult time estimating the first eight years of unpaid fees.”