Judges rule landfill fee unconstitutional

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BAXTER COUNTY, Ark. – Two judges in separate rulings have declared an $18 yearly fee unconstitutional.

The fee was levied against north-central Arkansas landowners on behalf of the Ozark Mountain Solid Waste District.

The $18 fee was included on tax assessments for property owners in Carroll, Baxter, Boone, Marion, Newton, and Searcy counties.

It was intended to repay the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) for up to $16.5 million in costs related to closing and cleaning up the landfill. The fee was also intended to repay bondholders who purchased $12.4 million in bonds issued by the solid waste district in October 2005 to finance the purchase of the North Arkansas Board of Regional Sanitation (NABORS) Landfill in Baxter County.

The lawsuits argued that for the $18 yearly charge to be considered a fee, it must be collected for a service.

The lawyers, Bishop and Howerton, argued that the solid waste district did not provide trash service and that the fee was being used to repay debt, which made it an illegal exaction and unconstitutional.

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