San Miguel County has a new tool at its disposal for rural residents who don’t pay their solid waste bills — liens.
This week, the San Miguel County Commission passed an ordinance allowing the county to assess liens on properties in which owners don’t pay their solid waste bills. The ordinance also increases the fine for illegal dumping from $500 to $1,000.
Officials said the county would would consult its attorney before filing any liens to make sure all laws are followed.
Commissioner Kenny Medina said he supported the ordinance but hoped that the county could would make serious efforts to contact delinquent customers.
County Manager Les Montoya said the commission decided some years ago not to include liens in its solid waste ordinance because there were so many problems with the service. But the county has since made improvements, so it’s now appropriate to have the power to file liens against properties, he said.
Montoya said liens are not necessarily something the county wants to do, but it’s now available as the last resort.
Commission Chairman David Salazar said in small communities, people often know who is not paying their solid waste bills.
“It’s not fair for some people to pay their bills all the time, and others do not,” he said.
He said he liked that the ordinance doubled the fine for illegal dumping.
“People from other areas come in and dump their trash (illegally). Don’t be afraid to take their license numbers. Don’t approach them and argue,” Salazar said.
Commissioner Hugh Ley told Sheriff Benjie Vigil that it was important that deputies cite violators.
“Please take the ordinance to heart,” Ley said. Law enforcement is “where the rubber meets the road. If someone gets fined, the word gets out, and we can solve the problem.”