County puts liens on properties

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By David Giuliani

San Miguel County plans to slap liens on more than 100 properties for unpaid solid waste bills.

Last week, the San Miguel County Commission voted to authorize its staff to file the liens, with officials calling the measure a “last resort.” Some of the unpaid bills go back a decade.

Commission Chairman David Salazar said the county has been dealing with the issue for years.

“There are a lot of people who are throwing their trash (at solid waste convenience) centers, but they haven’t paid,” he said. “People who are paying say that’s unfair.”

A few months ago, the commission voted for the lien process as a way of collecting bills, but officials said they needed the panel’s approval for the actual filing of liens.

“This a remedy of a very last resort,” County Attorney Jesus Lopez said. “The Board of Commissioners is reluctant to do this. They have spent years trying to avoid this.”

He said the county’s finance staff has done everything “humanly possible” to get residents to pay their bills.

“We’re just at wit’s end. The only remedy is the imposition of liens,” he said.

The county had sent a final letter, and as a result, some paid their bills, while others were credited because of a lack of service.

The county plans to file 110 liens, for a total of $161,000 in outstanding bills.