by: Chrystal Blair, Ozarks First
A hearing Wednesday in Berryville regarding the dispute over a landfill fee being charged to property owners in six counties.
It was a summary hearing — where the judge could make a decision for either side of the argument. However, he decided that he needed more facts from both sides before reaching a decision.
“I’m saying the fee is illegal. I’m saying it’s illegal because we don’t get anything for it,” Matt Bishop, attorney for the tax-payers.
The annual 18-dollar-fee affects people in Baxter, Boone, Marion, Carroll, Newton and Searcy counties — and it’s all over Nabor’s Landfill, which went under about seven years ago.
“I think what we said was that everybody agrees that the district doesn’t have a landfill,” said Bishop.
That now defunct landfill cost bond holders 13-point-two-million dollars, issued by the Ozark Mountain Solid Waste District.
Now, property owners are footing the bill to pay the bondholders back.
“It’s unconstitutional. You can’t pay revenue bonds back with a tax, and when you have a fee that isn’t related to anything — and when it’s a tax, it’s unconstitutional to pay those bonds back,” Bishop said.
In addition, property owners are picking up the nearly 16-million dollars tab for the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality to clean up and close the landfill.
“It’s not providing waste hauling services, said Bishop, “And essentially that..and that the 18-dollar fee isn’t going to provide either of those things.”
A ruling on the issue will have to wait.
“And the judge said look..in their motions there’s some arguments about some services they claim..I want to know more about those before I make a ruling,” Bishop said.
The final ruling is set to take place June 19 of this year.