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Merrillville looking to crack down on unpaid garbage bills as concerns with contractor remain

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The town of Merrillville says it has a trash problem. Town Council President Rick Bella says 644 homes are delinquent in paying their garbage bill, owing a collective $89,000 dollars to Waste Management.

"You may see trash sitting at your neighbor's property with the garbage truck driving right by it because they're going to stop service. Think about that for a minute. Six hundred forty-four homes — that's a lot of trash sitting at the curbside that's not going to get picked up. This is not a good look for the town of Merrillville or for the residents who live here," Bella told the rest of the town council Tuesday.

He said he wants to look into enforcement options or centralized billing through the clerk-treasurer's office. Town Attorney Joe Svetanoff was hesitant about placing a lien on residents' properties, saying there are other avenues the town could use.

But some council members felt Waste Management also needs to do a better job.

Council Member Shawn Pettit said the company doesn't listen to the town's requests. "We've all had problems in our neighborhood. We have problems with the cans. I, personally, again, this morning — every Tuesday at 5:30 — they're in my subdivision," Pettit said.

Council Member Leonard White also complained about paper flying out of the backs of garbage trucks, but some residents felt that homeowners have to do their part by not overfilling garbage cans and by keeping their neighborhoods clean.