Garbage collection for about 4,000 households in unincorporated Lafayette Parish will be suspended starting Wednesday if they haven't paid their bills for four months or more.
Lafayette Consolidated Government spokeswoman Cydra Wingerter made the announcement Monday on behalf of Republic Services, which has a contract to collect garbage in the city of Lafayette and unincorporated parts of the parish.
Garbage customers outside the city of Lafayette are billed by Republic Services and are required by city ordinance to maintain garbage collection service, Wingerter said.
"It's not an option," she said."It's a matter of public health."
Garbage service to residents in the city of Lafayette will not be affected because they are billed through Lafayette Utilities System.
Those affected are households outside a Lafayette Parish municipality that signed up for garbage service through Republic Services but are not paying. Wingerter said they should have received four notices from the company indicating their bill is past due. No one will be required to pay for more than 120 days.
There is a window of opportunity, she said, for past-due customers to become current with their payments as Republic Services works to provide the city-parish attorney with the names of past-due accounts. The attorney will send those customers a notice if violation if they still haven't paid up. Customers will have 30 days to get current with their bill.
"If they still don't comply, there's a whole list of things that can happen," Wingerter said. They include fines, receiving a court injunction compelling the customer to pay, even including 30 days in jail, she said.
Republic Services provides garbage service to 22,000 residents in unincorporated parts of the parish, Wingerter said. Four thousand are delinquent on paying their bills and another 4,000 have never signed up for garbage collection.
"They either burn their garbage or dump it," she said. "Either way, it's an issue of public health."