COMMISSION EXTENDS, EXPANDS COUPON REFUNDS FOR SOLID WASTE

COMMISSION EXTENDS, EXPANDS COUPON REFUNDS FOR SOLID WASTE

The Doña Ana County Board of Commissioners overturned an administrative policy Sept. 12 related to coupon refunds from the county’s old solid-waste program.

The coupon-refund system has been expanded to include all coupons – punched or unpunched – and extended the refund period to the close of business Oct. 31, 2000. To receive a refund, any coupon holder need only mail all unused coupons along with the name, mailing address and daytime telephone number of the refund recipient to: Doña Ana County Treasurer’s Office, 251 W. Amador Ave., Las Cruces, N.M. 88001. Within two weeks of the receipt of the coupons and the necessary information, a full refund will be mailed.

The commission also approved an arrangement with the South Central Solid Waste Authority by which residents of the county can use that facility (located on Amador Avenue, just west of the city’s wastewater treatment plant) for residential trash dumping up to four times a month if they are paying the county fee for waste disposal. Residents with private hauling contracts can use the authority’s station once a month without charge for residential trash loads. Residential loads are defined by the ordinance as waste that can be brought in “using a residential car or truck.” Trailers or large dump vehicles will not qualify for this benefit.
For decades, the county’s solid waste program has been costing all county taxpayers millions of dollars, because the program generated far less revenue than it incurred in expenses. Simply stated, this means that residents of the City of Las Cruces, the City of Sunland Park and the villages of Hatch and Mesilla – all of whom pay for solid-waste service within their municipalities – have been paying twice for solid waste: once through direct fees within their municipality; and then again with their property taxes for county services that were being used to subsidize the convenience stations used by county residents. The new ordinance places the operating costs of the county stations in the hands of the county users. City residents are no longer paying twice.
The new ordinance created a break-even program that balances revenue with expenses. These expenses relate not only to solid-waste processing, but also to illegal-dumping prosecutions, increased codes enforcement and actual clean-up projects across the county. The administrative costs are minimal, because billings are being contracted to an outside agency.
Residents who employ a private trash-hauling service are exempt from the county fee as long as their address shows up as being serviced by a licensed private hauler. The county encourages clustered residents to look into collective accounts with the private haulers by which several addresses may be served by one account, thereby resulting in monthly savings for each participating resident.
The county is staffing phone lines to answer questions about the program as a whole or the commission’s actions at the Sept. 12 meeting. The number to call in Las Cruces is 647-7277. From outside Las Cruces, residents may call toll-free at 1-877-827-7200 and request extension 7277. Residents are advised to be patient when dialing these numbers. High call volume sometimes means that, even with eight people answering the line, delays in answering will sometimes occur.