Hidalgo County wanting to charge colonias a trash fee under Senate bill 594

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HARLINGEN, Texas (KVEO) — Hidalgo County has moved closer to charging unincorporated areas —colonias— for trash pick-up as Senate bill 594 passes from the Texas Senate to the Texas House.

Paola Villanueva, owner of All Valley Waste and Grande Dumpsters, a private trash service company, said that she is concerned about what this law could do to their businesses.

“I’m going to panic, as a small business owner, we have a lot invested into the company, and we always think somehow this is going to affect our company [and] our customers,” said Villanueva.

Villanueva built her business up to 10,000 clients over a period of over 17 years, 95% of her clientele are located in colonias. Clients currently pay her company directly for their services, however senate bill 594 would change that.

“Is the county going to hire one company? Is the county going to hire several companies to provide service? How’s it going to affect our business?”

Paola Villanueva told KVEO.

Hidalgo County said under the bill, they would hold a bidding process to choose which trash company—or companies—they would partner with.

The county would then start charging residents a fee through their tax bills for trash pick-up.

Hidalgo County Commissioner Precinct 2, Eddie Cantu, said that the fee would not go to the county but to the trash company.

“Right now what we are considering is working with the ‘mom-and-pops’ that are currently picking up trash in the rural,” said Cantu.

When KVEO asked Villanueva when she first learned about the bill her response was, “I learned about it from you!” 

If the bill passes, residents could keep their trash service company, but they would still be required to pay a trash fee on their tax bill.

“If they don’t pay then they’re liened,” said Cantu. “In other words, you can’t force [residents] to pay but at the same time [the county] would have to put a lien because we provided a service, that service costed somebody.”

According to Cantu, while there are people in colonias who pay for trash service, many don’t. And, the county uses taxpayer money to clean it up.

Even though the county can place a fee on their taxes, homes cannot be repossessed, according to the bill.

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