City ‘liens’ on homeowners to pay garbage bills

By: Jon Brines, Special to The Placer Herald
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Some of Rocklin’s struggling homeowners are being hit with city-imposed tax liens due to their inability to pay their garbage bills. A woman who refused to be identified now has a lien on her single-family home in downtown Rocklin after owing more than $600. She said her husband couldn’t get jobs in his construction field after the housing crash. Now her garbage bill has gone delinquent, she said. “We’re just trying to get through it,” she said. “Times are bad for a lot of people.” Rocklin has seen a surge in refuse collection delinquencies this year – nearly quadruple the number from 2008, officials said. “This is a higher than normal number, usually 20; this year about 78,” said Auburn Placer Disposal Service Steve Black during a recemt Rocklin City Council meeting. “This is the first year; we think it’s economic times.” The Auburn-based garbage disposal service contracts with the city of Rocklin for trash removal and is obligated whether or not the homeowners pay on time. “In exchange for that, the city has a procedure by which if you haven’t paid your garbage bill there is a process of putting a lien on the property,” said City Manager Carlos Urrutia. The homeowner then has to pay off the garbage debt before they can sell their Rocklin property. The city notified owners with several months past due amounts through certified mail. They were also invited to a public hearing on the matter. “Everyone is cutting back wherever they can,” Urrutia said, “If you own a piece of property, certain obligations come with that property. One of them is to pay your bills and pay your taxes. If you can’t afford to do it, well I don’t have the ability to say, ‘we will forgive you because you can’t afford it.’”