Colusa cleans up language on property owner responsibility for garbage

The Colusa City Council last week introduced an ordinance fortifying property owner responsibility for mandatory garbage service. 

City officials said the new ordinance is essentially consistent will the practices currently employed by the city, but makes changes to the billing and collection process in order to make the collection of delinquent accounts more feasible, city officials said. 

Garbage service will not only continue to be mandatory for all occupied residences, but once formally adopted, the amended ordinance will require all property owners to have the garbage collection bill transferred to their names, if not in their names already. 

City Councilman Tom Reische said property owners who rent homes where garbage service is required should factor the cost of garbage into their rent. 

“That is the most practical way of doing it,” Reische said. 

Colusa Manger Jesse Cain said the city contracts with Recology for mandatory garbage service and approves tax liens as a way for the company to recover delinquent accounts so that losses would not be passed on to all ratepayers in the form of higher collection rates. 

Last year, however, the city authorized liens on property without Recology notifying property owners that their tenants were delinquent on their accounts, and sought to remedy that last August. 

“The argument last year was that the property owner didn’t know until it was $1,000 and now their property is going to be liened,” said Councilman Dave Markss. 

While the city now requires Recology to notify property owners of all delinquent accounts, the ordinance was ambiguous about who actually should receive the bill in the first place. 

“It was mandated that you had to have garbage service, but it wasn’t real clear that (the utility bill) had to be in the property owners’ name,” Cain said. 

City officials said property owners should have recently received a notice if garbage service linked to their property is delinquent. In the first quarter of the year, Recology reports that Colusa garbage customers are delinquent to the tune of $60,000. 

The new ordinance received unanimous support of the City Council at their April 16 meeting, but may not be finalized until the city holds a second public hearing at their next meeting, scheduled for June 18.  

After that, a brief notice will go out in the utility bill explaining the requirement that property owners must transfer the bill to their names. 

“The property owner will be notified as well,” Cain said. ■