Efficiently and effectively billing paying for garbage collection services has become a real headache for the Municipality of Nicoya because, of the 5,396 registered taxpayers in the canton, nearly half have outstanding invoices.
A total of 2,706 taxpayers owe at least one trimester to the municipality and all together they owe ¢248,657,908.76 (about $470,000) to the mayor’s office.
Currently, the municipality charges ¢8,778 (about $16.50) each trimester to homeowners, while businesses must pay ¢21,945 (about $41.40) per trimester. These charges are billed in the districts of Samara and Nicoya, who are the only two that receive garbage collection service in the canton.
According to Nicoyan Mayor Marco Jimenez, historically the service users have not paid their obligations to the mayor’s office. He thinks the lack of payment is due to users believing that the collection service is an obligation of the municipality alone.
“[People] believe that this is an obligation of the municipal government only when it is a joint obligation, in order to not generate more pollution problems like garbage generates,” Jimenez said.
Currently the municipality offers garbage collection service from Monday to Friday in the urban area of Nicoya and in the center of Samara and collects an average of 21 tons per day.
The garbage is sent to the Santa Cruz garbage dump since the end of 2012 because the Nicoya dump was shut down by the Ministry of Health. Since then, the mayor’s office pays about 125 million colones (about $235,000) a year to the Municipality of Santa Cruz for this service, according to data from the environmental department.
The municipality’s monthly expenses for garbage collection amount to approximately 24 million colones (about $45,000) per month, including the costs of the collection center, operation services of the environmental department and taking the trash to Santa Cruz monthly, according to data from the municipal finance department.
If at least half of the cumulative amount owed was paid, i.e. ¢124,328,954.38 (about $235,000), the municipality could almost completely pay the amount corresponding to taking the garbage to Santa Cruz for the year (¢125 million).
The mayor acknowledged that in order to fix the billing problem, first they would have to implement a series of actions internally in the municipality, like in the information technology and billing departments to have more personnel and keep the municipal database system updated.
“The first thing we have to solve is the information technology problem. We have been recounting and we are going to make a new addition to the municipal information system to guarantee that the people who receive service pay for that service,” Jimenez said.
Additionally the mayor confirmed that during the month of December, the municipality will extend garbage collection service to the district of La Mansion and to the area of Curime and La Matabuey neighborhood.