Torrance County continues work on trash ordinance

Revisions to a proposed ordinance governing solid waste disposal in Torrance County was once again on the agenda, this time coming from Commissioner Julia DuCharme.

Meanwhile this week, the county is transitioning to a new system that will mean new phone numbers throughout the county. 

After a heated meeting two weeks earlier when one of the members of a committee appointed by the county commission offered their proposed changes, DuCharme offered her own last week. She also had an item placed on the agenda seeking to remove that committee member, David Saline, from his position representing the county on the Estancia Valley Solid Waste Authority.

The committee was made up of the county’s three representatives on that board: Saline, along with county manager Joy Ansley and former county commissioner Leanne Tapia.

DuCharme and the committee had one major point of agreement: that the county’s ordinance not name EVSWA as its provider of solid waste disposal services.

“We met on several occasions, most recently with [county attorney] Dennis Wallin and we came up with revisions we thought were necessary,” Ansley wrote in an email to The Independent. “Our primary area of concern was to separate EVSWA from the County.”

Saline said so explicitly when he presented the committee’s draft last month, and DuCharme’s recommended revisions begins by stating, “This ordinance should apply to any contractor selected by the Torrance County Commission to collect solid waste in Torrance County. I therefore suggest the wording particular to EVSWA be eliminated or changed to ‘any contractor selected by Torrance County to collect, transport, recycle, or dispose of solid waste in the unincorporated areas of Torrance County.’”

DuCharme proposes that the county collect no fee for solid waste disposal from “residences served by alternate disposal, such as private haulers.” The proposed language continues, “The point is that trash should be regularly collected at every occupied residence.”

The committee’s recommendation is to add a sentence on fees. The existing language says the county commission sets fees based on “the actual or projected cost to collect, transport and recycle or dispose of such solid waste.” The committee would add a sentence: “Unmet actual costs resulting from unpaid fees or certain discounts defined and approved by the County Commission shall be the responsibility of the County Commission.”

At issue there are discounts such as the one suggested by DuCharme above—not assessing the fee against property owners who use a private hauler—and could also include other discounts, like those for low income, senior citizens and veterans offered currently.

DuCharme also suggested no fees for vacant properties. “No waste disposal is needed for vacant residences and therefore no fee should be charged,” she wrote in her recommendation.

Torrance County would retain the ability to set a lien against a property for non-payment.

DuCharme had another item on the agenda, seeking to remove Saline from his appointment to represent Torrance County on the Estancia Valley Solid Waste Authority’s board; her motion died without a second.

In other business, the commission discussed extending the current general obligation bond. Voters had passed a bond in 2001 to build a judicial complex, which will mature next year, Ansley said. “If the question of the GO Bond extension was put to an election ballot, and it passed, the bond would generate revenue (about $3.8 million), without raising property taxes.”

Ansley said a public hearing is not required for that process but that DuCharme wants to hold one. The commission has tentatively set a date for a public hearing at its first meeting in January.

New phone numbers will be in place throughout the county, starting right away. To contact the county manager’s office, dial 505-544-4700; to reach the assessor, 505-544-4300; to reach the county clerk, dial 505-544-4350; DWI Prevention Program and Teen Court, 505-544-4774; the NMSU Extension office, 505-544-4333; Planning and Zoning, 505-544-4387; the road department, 505-544-4666; the sheriff’s office, 505-544-4900; the Torrance County Project Office, 505-544-4740 and the treasurer at 505-544-4800.

Torrance County also has a website, torrancecountynm.org.