Bill would allow Hidalgo County to provide garbage service outside city limits
Hidalgo County is taking another shot at garbage service.
Senate Bill 1430, which state Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, and state Sen. Morgan LaMantia, D-South Padre Island, filed on March 2, would allow Hidalgo County to provide garbage collection service for people who live outside city limits — and make the service mandatory.
“The county has become very urbanized,” said Mike Perez, a consultant for Hidalgo County who is working on the initiative. “It’s no longer a rural area and the county residents are wanting a higher level of service.”
People who live outside city limits currently pay a privately owned company to pick up their trash, burn waste in their backyards or haul garbage to collection stations themselves. Other people surreptitiously dump trash in drainage ditches, fields or vacant lots.
Hidalgo County spends $8 million to $10 million a year on solid waste services, said Precinct 3 Commissioner Everardo “Ever” Villarreal. Creating a garbage collection service would save money and curtail illegal dumping.
Households would pay about $30 per month for garbage service, Perez estimated. Hidalgo County would partner with the Agua Special Utility District, the North Alamo Water Supply Corp. and other rural utility providers to collect the money.
The Texas Health and Safety Code already allows county governments to provide garbage collection service to people who live outside city limits. A county, however, can’t provide garbage service within the extraterritorial jurisdiction of a city, which ranges from a half-mile to 5 miles from city limits, depending on the city’s population.
That created a major problem for Hidalgo County.
Excluding people who live in a city’s extraterritorial jurisdiction would leave the county with fewer customers to share the cost.
Hidalgo County decided to ask the Texas Legislature to change the law. Bexar County and Webb County worked with lawmakers to pass similar legislation.
“That would keep the cost down so that everybody can afford it,” Villarreal said.
Hidalgo County backed a similar bill in 2021.
It passed the Texas Senate, but the bill died in the Texas House amid concerns about the cost. Lawmakers also worried that Hidalgo County planned to add the garbage fee to property tax bills.
Hidalgo County tweaked the bill and tried again in 2023.
The new bill contains a lengthy section on notifying the public about the proposal and requires Hidalgo County to hold a public hearing. It also eliminated the section about adding garbage fees to property tax bills.
Villarreal said Hidalgo County is open to suggestions from lawmakers if they want to take a different approach.
“It doesn’t matter for me,” Villarreal said. “As long as we take care of our citizens.”
Lawmakers remain concerned about requiring people who live in rural areas to pay for garbage service.
Many people who live outside city limits already struggle to pay for water and sewer service. It’s unclear if they can afford garbage too.
The bill itself is another point of contention.
Some lawmakers aren’t convinced Hidalgo County actually needs a bill to serve people in a city’s extraterritorial jurisdiction. Rather than change state law, Hidalgo County could simply partner with cities to collect garbage.
“If you ask my opinion, I think they can already do it,” said state Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg. “But, nevertheless, they’ve come to the legislature.”
Canales said he considers the monthly garbage fee, which would be mandatory, a tax on rural Hidalgo County residents.
State Rep. Oscar Longoria, D-La Joya, said the decision should be made at the local level, not by lawmakers in Austin.
“I support the county wanting to collect trash,” Longoria said. “I just don’t support us as legislators making that big decision.”
Wow 30 per month
It’s cheaper 25 for 3 months to pay to take my trash myself
30 dollars is way too much I pay less than that to the private companies like always County trying to see how much more money they can make instead of helping its residents save.
I currently use al valley waste and they provide a great service at $25.00 per month, i dont see any need to change and i dont want to change, so did Mr. Mike Perez consultant and the rest of the county officials really do their due diligence and conduct a survey besides those public meetings that people who work cannot attend or is it like the new county courthouse project that was a take it even if you dont want it approach, because that is what this sounds to me, btw who is the compadre who will be getting the bid to do this work? .jsu asking