$18 controversial fee no more in six north Arkansas counties

Published: Aug. 25, 2020 at 4:17 PM CDT
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HARRISON, Ark. (KY3) - It’s been a long journey to get here.

”It is over. It is through. It is done. No more $18,” said Ozark Mountain Solid Waste District Board Chairman Fred Woehl.

The circuit judge who ordered taxpayers in six north Arkansas counties to pay a yearly $18 fee has terminated that arrangement.  

“I thought the $18 was going to be with us for 20-30 years. And who would’ve guessed a year later, it’s gone,” said Harrison Mayor Jerry Jackson, a board member.

Property owners were ordered by a judge to pay the fee to make up for the Ozark Mountain Solid Waste District defaulting on $12 million in bonds over a defunct landfill bought in 2005 and closed in 2012.

But taxpayers filed lawsuits, saying the fee was unconstitutional, and judges who heard the cases agreed. And so did the judge who originally came up with the order.

"The $18 was one thing. But having to pay it without representation, it really really was wrong," Jackson said.

Woehl said the bad news is a large portion of the $3.6 million already collected over the past three years will go to legal bills.

”Instead of getting $18 back, you may get $12 back,” Woehl said.

But he said the important thing is you won’t have to pay the fee after this year. 

The board now in 2020 is made up of all different people than it was back when the district bought and closed the landfill. Woehl said now this board is trying to move forward.

"We're an active board. And we have moved together, and we're going to. But we're upside down. We're broke and we're trying to fix that," Woehl said.

The solid waste district board also offered a contract to a new executive director to keep the district moving the right direction. 

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