Trash Talk: Rio Arriba County Commission Votes To Leave North Central Solid Waste Authority
EDITORIAL NOTE: This article was amended on July 8 to include corrected number of homes served and budget number.
Española – The Rio Arriba County Commission met in a special meeting Monday morning and voted unanimously to end their relationship with the North Central Solid Waste Authority (NCSWA), effective in one year. The joint powers agreement signed by Rio Arriba County with NCSWA requires that any partner leaving the agreement provide a 12 month notice.
During the meeting on Monday all commissioners spoke of the possibility that a compromise could be reached during the coming year which could allow Rio Arriba to remain a partner in the waste authority. As previously reported HERE, Rio Arriba County Commission voted last week to hold this special session to address concerns growing with the County over NCSWA.
Commissioners spoke favorably of the professionalism of Gino Romero, NCSWA’s Executive Director who attended the meeting, but also presented a long list of complaints from county residents and concerns from of the county government. Commissioners spoke of property owners receiving bills for several thousand dollars from the NCSWA for properties that were vacant and not using waste services.
Commissioner Alex Naranjo also Voice concern over the lack of a comprehensive audit of NCSWA for the last 18 years and the growing cost to the county.
” I wish Mr. Romero had brought his board to meet with us on a regular basis” said Naranjo. He continued “Perhaps then they would have known about our concerns which we have voiced regularly in our meetings.”
Following the Commission vote, Gino Romero said, ” North Central was never solvent until the last three years, and during that time costs have gone up. I understand the County’s concerned over costs, but as they start running the numbers they will see costs have gone up. I’m hurt this went political. “
Other partners in NCSWA include the city of Española , Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo and Santa Clara Pueblo.
Thomas Campos Rio Arriba County manager said in an interview with the Valley Daily Post that he would begin the process of preparing the county to separate from NCSWA and bring solid waste disposal into County operations. Speaking of the process Campos said “It will be a lot like a divorce. We have to see what assets there are and what belongs to who.”
Late Monday the Valley Daily Post spoke with Española City Manager Kelly Duran regarding the County’s vote. “It concerns me that Rio Arriba County would give notice to leave North Central Solid Waste Authority” said Duran. He continued “Rio Arriba County plays a major role in North Central, however the City is still committed to provide trash service should the county leave. However, if there is a possibility to bridge any gap of differences then we should, not so much for our predecessors who established NCSWA, but for the tax payer who pay for these services and expect us to be able to deliver them.
North Central Solid Waste Authority services 26,000 homes, with approximately half residing in unincorporated areas of Rio Arriba County, with an annual operating budget of $4.9 million.