North Arkansas property owners receiving a refund on $18 trash fee

Taxpayers in north Arkansas will recieve a refund for an $18 solid waste fee from 2019.
Published: Nov. 15, 2021 at 5:15 PM CST
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HARRISON, Ark. (KY3) - Taxpayers in six counties of north Arkansas who paid an $18 fee to the Ozark Mountain Solid Waste District with their property taxes in 2019 will receive a refund. The fee will never be charged again after a successful class-action lawsuit declaring it an illegal exaction.

The fee, which was collected in Baxter, Boone, Carroll, Marion, Newton, and Searcy Counties was intended to repay bondholders who purchased the $12.4 million Nabors Landfill north of Mountain Home in 2005.

“By the time they got everything bought, the ADEQ (Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality) said it was not a suitable site,” said Fred Woehl, director of the Ozark Mountain Solid Waste District.

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 after the landfill closed in 2012.

”Ozark Mountain Solid Waste District is saying no we can’t, we can only provide that fee if we provide a service if we’re not hauling waste we can’t charge a fee,’” said Matt Bishop, the lawyer who originally filed the lawsuit against the fee. “Then bondholders are saying yes you can, and that’s how it came into place.”

Several judges ruled the fee was illegal. In August, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox ordered that the fee no longer be collected. Woehl says it’s a step in the right direction they’ve worked towards since his appointment in 2019.”

“The last two years, our main goal was to try to resolve issues that have been done and be sure we’re getting the $18 back to every taxpayer,” he explained.

Under the refund plan, taxpayers will receive money that was collected in 2019. A judge will decide the money collected in the two previous years.

”So two years’ worth of money, approximately $2.4 million, is still sitting in the court in Pulaski County and will have hearings sometime in the future to refund that,” said Bishop. “We’re going to go ahead and refund one year’s worth of money and get a plan in place to get the rest of it back.”

Each county manages its waste individually. Ozark Mountain cannot dissolve and operates recycling services for rubber tires and electronics.

”The thing I cannot stress enough is the $18 fee is gone and it will not be coming back,” said Woehl. “I am really thankful for our board and the hard work they have done to try and resolve this issue.”

Taxpayers who paid the $18 fee in 2019 will receive $10.50 following attorneys’ fees and costs.

Anyone who paid the fee and has changed addresses should contact Bishop Law Firm: (479) 363-6171 or at 3739 N. Steele Blvd., Ste. 380, Fayetteville, AR, 72703

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