Rio Arriba County held a Community Meeting on Sept. 14 at the Alcalde Community Center in which both county officials and City of Española officials were present to discuss residential issues. 

Many residents spoke out against the trash issues, while some expressed understanding over how difficult it can be to have suitable trash pickup strategies. 

Rio Arriba County Sheriff Billy Merrifield also spoke towards the end of the meeting, addressing the highway concerns, possible speedway additions and the $918,750 fund the Sheriff’s office recently received from Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham that will go towards hiring new deputies.

County to Stop 

Taxing the

Deceased

County Assessor Leo Valdez has identified the deceased Rio Arriba County residents. North Central Solid Waste Authority had previously recorded these residents on their “delinquent list,” according to County Manager Lucia Sanchez in an interview on Sept. 19.

“I did go through the list with the help of Commissioner Morales and he was able to help verify folks who have been deceased for over 10 years,” Sanchez said.

The matter was acknowledged at the community meeting when county resident Antonio Devargas said the county doesn’t know who is dead or who moved away and continues to tax the properties regardless. 

Sanchez confirmed this was true and assured Devargas and other meeting attendees that the issue would be solved and that she had already determined most of the deceased residents.

County Residents Trash Hardships Continue 

During the public comments portion of the meeting, residents expressed their recent troubles due to the trash pickup failures. 

“We need our trash picked up on a weekly basis,” county resident Phyllis Sanchez Trujillo said. 

Sanchez Trujillo added that the authority “should have the decency” to pick up trash “at least once or twice a week.”

Former Española city councilor Alfredo Herrera said the door to door pickup approach doesn’t work.

“I thought in 1992 it was a horrible idea, now I think it’s an even more horrible idea,” he said.

Herrera spoke on his experience as city councilor and said that the reason door-to-door pickup is voted in by officials is because “the popular sentiment of the people,” but that it costs too much to be feasible.

“Right now, North Central is in a lot of trouble because they don’t have a lot of operatives,” he said.

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