About 1,000 customers in San Miguel may face higher property tax bills if their Community Services District moves forward with a new proposal to tack on sewer and trash fees.
A petition circulating in the small North County community says the change would be a financial burden on users because it would dump the fees into much larger payments twice a year, instead of the monthly and bi-monthly bills people now receive.
San Miguel has about 660 sewer accounts through the district and 500 garbage accounts through San Miguel Garbage Co., General Manager J. M. Ellison said. The district charges a $34 flat monthly fee for sewer service on a bimonthly basis, and the garbage company — which is a franchisee through the district — has a flat starting rate of $27 for trash that it bills monthly.
The district board has planned a meeting for Thursday to discuss the plan before setting another meeting to formally consider it.
“We’re looking at the long-term growth of this community and also looking at staff for ways to save costs,” Ellison said. “This takes the billing completely out of our hands.”
Although officials first thought the plan would help the district save money by not having to hire more staff as the community grows by moving the bill processing to the county tax assessor, Ellison said, information received this week might mean the plan will be more expensive than originally thought.
Officials learned that the county would charge them $2 per type of bill processed — potentially $4 per property.
“So any savings we will have gained could be eaten up, and we can’t raise our rates to cover that loss,” Ellison said.
The board can’t raise the rates on sewer accounts because a five-year increase system was approved and established in 2008.
Streamlining the collection process and no longer using district staff time to collect on delinquent accounts are among the benefits in going forward, Ellison said.
Lumping trash and sewer sums into two property tax payments in December and April is the biggest complaint the district has heard so far, Ellison said.
Those against the idea urge the board to “keep in mind the present state of the economy and financial hardships of so many in our community,” according to the statement on the petition against the proposal.
Ultimately, Ellison said, the decision rests on what comments the community presents at Thursday’s meeting.
“We understand that’s a tough point,” he added, “so that’s why the board wanted more community input on this. It’s not a done deal by any means.”
A meeting designed to get community input on the proposed sewer and trash fees is planned for 7 p.m. Thursday at the meeting room at 1150 Mission St. in San Miguel. Those with questions can call the district at 467-3300.
Reach Tonya Strickland at 781-7858. Stay updated by following @tstrickland on Twitter.