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Trash Authority Sues Employee over Bill

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The North Central Solid Waste Authority is suing one of its own employees over an unpaid trash bill.

Authority contract attorney Renee Barela-Gutierrez filed the complaint for debt and money due May 7 in First Judicial District Court against Clerk Lea Ortega.

The suit states Ortega owes the Authority $3,995 for past due bills for service and fees.

A 2018 Authority resolution regarding delinquent employee accounts states employees can make a payment plan with the Authority to pay their bill. They must pay 30 percent of the amount due up front before entering into a payment plan.

“Demand has been made upon defendant to pay her past-due account on numerous occasions and (Ortega) has refused,” the suit states.

Authority General Manager Peter Fuller said they made repeated attempts to get her to pay her bill or enter into a payment arrangement.

“Essentially what we did was we reviewed all the accounts and I said, ‘I got people on my employee rolls just like many customers,’” he said. “They haven’t paid their bill or (made) no good faith effort to pay their bill. That’s not right.”

Ortega submitted a response to the suit May 29 and wrote she “denies the allegations of the complaint.”

Barela-Gutierrez said Ortega knew about the suit before it was filed.

“(This is the) worst case scenario,” she said. “This is what we will be forced to do and we don’t want to do that and as an employer, (the Authority) didn’t take it lightly.”

Although Ortega denied the allegations of the complaint, Barela-Gutierrez said it is true.

“I do think that she received service,” she said. “That’s the basis of the complaint, that she did receive service and she failed to pay for it.”

Ortega said she could not comment about the case, but that she has hired an attorney.

“I’m not going to talk about it right now because I want to see what’s going to happen at the office,” she said.

Court documents state the Authority is also seeking all costs associated with collecting the debt, including attorney costs and court fees.

Court records shows the Authority already paid $132 to file the suit.

Barela-Gutierrez’ contract states she charges $150 for attorney work and $60 for paralegal work.

Fuller’s manager report, which he releases at each monthly Board of Directors meeting, states Authority Collection Specialist JoAnn Marquez collected $247,000 on past due accounts over the last 13 months.

(1) comment

JAR1971

Not sure about this organization, I recently moved into the Espanola area and I paid my trash bill for 3 months before receiving my trash bin. During this time I had no choice but to take my trash to a transfer station and pay additional out of pocket expenses to dispose of my trash. Solid Waste swore they delivered a bin to my yard which wasn't true!!

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