At a community meeting held on June 30th, in Maxwell, Supervisor, Gary Evans instructed concerned citizens to send letters of concern to the board of supervisor so that they could review and potentially take action on the issue.
Colusa County Chief Administrative Officer, Robert Muszar outlined the top five concerns from the citizens’ letters.
“We received 181 letters that had a consistent concern among them,” said Muszar, “those topics included affordability and cost; residents who are within close proximity to the Maxwell Transfer Station, the lack of public notice, and many expressed a concern regarding the decision made by the board and that the decision should have been made by the citizens. Many felt that they didn’t need trash collection services, or had other means of disposal. While many expressed a great concern for how mandate was ‘rolled out’.”
Board Chairperson, Kim Vann opened the meeting to public comment where the community members were given the opportunity to speak regarding the issue.
One-by-one, community members stood at the podium and voiced their dissatisfaction with the mandate, their right to choose, and with the board of supervisors.
“Recology is a business,” said a Maxwell community member, “I have the right to call them when I want service, and should not to have a trash can dumped in my driveway – with a letter demanding service or be taxed!”
One community member voiced her disapproval and made it clear that she was ready to take court action if the County decides to foreclose on her property because she refuses to pay for the mandated trash collection service.
Some community members expressed their concern for countywide service, commenting that if the county is going to mandate trash collection services, then every resident should be included – not just a select few.
When Recology Operations Manager, Victor Trujillo took stand at the podium, community members were not impressed and asked him to step down.
“The podium is for Colusa County Citizens to voice their concerns,” said one of the community member, “this isn’t the time for Recology to speak.”
Trujillo kindly stepped down and let community members resume speaking their concerns.
The consensus of the group was baffled at the cost difference between mandated service and taking their trash to the transfer station themselves.
“Many of the residents in Colusa County are farm workers, and have an average income of $21,600,” said a Williams Community Member, “$31 a month doesn’t sound like much, but when you list it out all the costs of living, for many it could mean the difference between food on the table or having trash collection.”
“Every month and a half, it costs me just $7 to dump my trash at the transfer station,” said a Maxwell community member, “That is just $84 a year – a big difference from the $372 annual cost with Recology.”
If the County is unable to amend its contract with Recology, residents asked the Board of Supervisors provide an exemption clause in its mandate that will allow residents to deliver their trash to the transfer station.
“The City of Colusa has an exemption clause, if the County had one I am prepared to show proof that I take my trash to the dump quite frequently,” said a Maxwell community member.
The issues with the mandatory trash collection service is focused primarily in community of Maxwell; this due to its proximity to the dump, with the closest home just a quarter of a mile away, and many homes not much further.
Questions regarding the required improvements for the transfer station arose with many commenting that Recology’s proposal was just “amenities”.
“What are the requirements to fix our transfer station, and how much does it cost?” asked a Maxwell community member, “why wasn’t it put out to bid, and could the project be funded through other means.”
“We’ve self-funded many projects in the past, why can’t we do that again?” he said.
A community member indicated that the in the agenda for December 3, 2013 Colusa City Council Meeting, a representative from Recology stated that in order for their investment with the transfer station to work they would need at least two of the three local governments to participate in the contract extension, but would gladly accept all three.
With the City of Colusa and the City of Williams already participating and committing to the contract amendments with Recology, community members felt that it was unnecessary for the county to make the additional commitment.
“I can speak for the whole board when I say that no malice was intended when agreeing to this contract,” said Board Chairperson, Kim Vann, “We had a committee that worked on this plan for six months or better, this wasn’t a decision out of spite.”
Supervisor Gary Evans gave his sincere thanks to all the community members who took the time to write and mail letters.
“I have read every letter, and hope your voice will help put a change into effect,” said Evans.
After hearing the community members concerns, Vann gave direction to the county staff and formed an ad hoc committee that will investigate the counties contract with Recology and determine its enforcement and what options the County has.
Vann appointed Supervisors Mark Marshall and Gary Evans to the committee along with County CAO, Robert Muszar and the County Counsel.
The committee is expected to present their findings at the Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, August 12, 2014.
City of Williams
On July 16, 2014 the City of Williams held a public hearing to adopt a resolution regarding the recording of liens against properties delinquent in payments for solid waste collection services.
The public hearing was opened for public comment.
A Williams resident questioned the council on why he was being forced to have service. Williams Mayor informed that mandatory garbage collection has always been a requirement by the city.
The concern of vacant properties or part time residences and mandatory trash collection was also brought to the council’s attention.
Recology representative Melissa Percifield commented that if a residence was vacant, that trash service wasn’t required.
A resident questioned the billing practice of Recology, as they bill services three months in advance.
Percifield commented that although residents are billed three months in advance that the bill is not technically past due until the third month; thus allowing customers to pay their bill.
With the council’s approval, approximately 105 delinquent customers could face a lien. “We have some customers that haven’t paid since 2010,” said Percifield.
Williams City Attorney, Anne Siprelle, stated that the lien process is a judgment against the said property, as in the same manner the city collects unpaid water bills, and that the property lien would essentially be paid out in the event of sale or other transaction; additionally the city does not foresee foreclosing on those properties.
At the close of public hearing the Williams City Council discussed that under the current cities municipal code, the city has the authority to collect delinquent utility service fees as liens against the properties being serviced. Additionally these liens can be imposed using a similar procedure to the revenue and bond law of 1941, Government Code 54300.
Percifield also announced at the Williams City Council meeting that Recology was expanding its holiday collection services to only exclude Christmas and New Years as non-service days to prevent a delay in collection services.
The Williams City Council adopted the resolution regarding the recording of liens against properties delinquent in payments for solid waste collection services with a vote of 4 out of 5; Council Member John Troughton Jr. recused himself due to a potential conflict of interest with a family member working for Recology.
Editors Note: We will continue to bring you news on the County Mandated Trash Collection as information is provided or details are reportable. Please see future editions of the Williams Pioneer Review.