Photo/SFVS Staff

City of San Fernando councilmembers decided to not move forward with placing liens from unpaid trash bills onto property tax, leaving waste disposal company Republic Services to find another way to collect on delinquent fees.

On July 25, councilmembers convened during a special meeting to discuss the placement of liens — claims against assets that are typically used as collateral to satisfy a debt — on property for nonpayment of trash collection bills. The topic was tabled during a previous City Council meeting.

Republic Services cannot stop waste collection due to the contract with the City since the buildup of trash would create a health risk, so unpaid bills were added to the property tax.

However, during the previous meeting, property owners brought up concerns that this placed the responsibility of those bills onto them instead of the tenants.

At the special meeting, council members overwhelmingly agreed that it was unfair to strap landlords with trash bills that were unpaid by their tenants. It was noted that some tenants even moved out before a landlord discovered, after receiving notice, that trash bills went unpaid.

Francella Aguilar, municipal relationship manager at Republic Services, said at the special meeting that seven commercial customers and 35 residential customers are “billed under the same name as ownership.”

The current debt owed to Republic is $92,445.73. Residential accounts total more than $36,000 and $56,000 is from commercial accounts.

After deliberation, the City Council voted 3-2 against placing liens on property. Republic Services will now have to find a different way to collect the fees.

“They [Republic] may still have the authority to send them [customers] to collections and go through other avenues,” City Manager Nick Kimball explained. “They just won’t be collected through a property tax lien.”

Liens will not be placed on property taxes for the rest of the year and part of 2023 until the City Council makes another decision.