County talks trash

By Dave Gragg

Quay County government sent out solid waste bills just over a week ago, County Manager Paula Chacon told the commissioners Monday morning. Since then, she’s gotten nearly 50 calls per day from people with questions or complaints.
The bills had two years worth of charges on them, because the county had not sent out bills since 2001 because of computer problems and an internal investigation.
But, the county has received more than $16,000 in that week, Chacon said.
Chacon said some residents have complained about the bill, saying that no one lives at the property they are being billed for.
Others say they don’t generate enough trash to pay the $130 bill — $5 a month plus tax. She said some people are paying the bill, but not the tax.
Some people say there isn’t a Dumpster near them.
Chacon said she is working on getting proposals for a private company to clean up the messes at the county’s Dumpster sites.
The county’s road department currently has to clean up the Dumpster sites every week or two, Chacon said. It would be cheaper to hire a private contractor to clean and let the road crews work on the roads, she said.
“I’ve had a lot more residents calling telling me who’s illegal dumping,” Chacon said. “A couple a day.”
With the current ordinance, the county cannot do much to people who don’t pay the bill for the last two years.
“There’s no way we can enforce it,” Commissioner Franklin McCasland said. “We’re just asking the citizens to be honest — if they used the service, pay for it.”
Chacon said she is working on a new ordinance that will allow the county to file a lien on property owned by people who don’t pay the bill.
That ordinance will likely be in effect for the 2003 billing year.
Chacon said there were many people who said they would attend Monday’s meeting to talk about the ordinance, but none showed up.
In other business, the commission:
o Discussed passing the Joint Powers Agreement with the 11 other entities that make up the Eastern New Mexico Rural Water Authority. The county is the only one which has not yet passed the JPA.
Chacon said county attorney Don Schutte had not been able to talk with Clovis Mayor David Lansford to get some questions answered.
The commission decided to vote on the authority at a special meeting, which would be before the next meeting of the ENMRWA.
o Discussed accepting the special audit from the New Mexico State Auditor regarding a former county employee and alleged embezzling from the county’s solid waste fund.
The commission must accept the audit in a public meeting. Commissioners thought they had done that at their last meeting, but County Clerk Jeannette Maddaford said there had been no vote.
McCasland said he did not want to pay the $8,000 bill the state was charging because it was more than the employee had allegedly embezzled.
The commissioners will vote on the issue at the special meeting, because it was not on the agenda for Monday.