County looks at liens for unpaid trash bills

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By David Giuliani

The San Miguel County Commission is considering a proposal to start slapping liens on properties when owners don’t pay their county solid waste bills.

The commission reviewed possible changes to its solid waste ordinance at its monthly meeting last week. The discussion comes a month after the commission voted to remove 221 delinquent accounts from its system. Officials said most of those accounts has inaccurate addresses or involved onetime customers.

County Attorney Jesus Lopez told the commission that a different commission years ago decided against liens.

“Property liens are always controversial. People abhor big brother putting liens on properties,” he said.

At the same time, Lopez said that without the liens, there are “no consequences or teeth” in the ordinance for failure to pay solid waste bills.

The county is also considering increasing fines for illegal dumping from $300 to $1,000.

Commission Chairman David Salazar said it’s frustrating when people dump their trash in an arroyo rather than going to a county solid waste convenience center.

“People will have to report incidents. Some people are afraid to report, but the only way to stop this is to get involved,” he said.

Salazar said the county has done a good job at keeping the convenience center in Bernal clean, which he noted was a far cry from a few years ago.