About a dozen San Miguel residents spoke out at a recent public meeting against a plan that would add sewer and trash bills to their property taxes.
The Community Services District held a meeting Thursday to gauge the public’s support for the idea before it decides whether to go forward.
About 1,000 customers in the small North County community would face higher property tax bills if the plan were adopted.
A petition opposing the idea gathered approximately 175 signatures, General Manager J.M. Ellison said. The signatures still have to be verified, he added. The petition states 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 bimonthly bills people now receive.
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A motion to drop the proposal was deadlocked 2-2, with member Richard Smithen and president Dale Hamblin dissenting. Member Richard Harrison was absent Thursday.
Ellison plans to compile the written comments from the meeting, he said, as well as the verified petitions, and return them to the board at a later date so it can decide what to do next.
Although officials first thought the plan would help the district save money by eliminating the need to hire more staff as the community grows and by moving bill processing to the county tax assessor, the plan might be more expensive than originally thought, Ellison said.
After looking more into its logistics, officials learned that the county would charge them $2 per type of bill processed — potentially $4 per property.
San Miguel has about 660 sewer accounts through the district and 500 garbage accounts through San Miguel Garbage Co., Ellison said. The district charges a $34 flat monthly fee for sewer service on a bimonthly basis, and the garbage company — which is a franchise through the district — has a flat starting rate of $27 for trash that it bills monthly.
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.