Statements in mailboxes signal annual $18 trash service fee beginning

Bright yellow statements are set to arrive in the mailboxes of Baxter County taxpayers in early 2018 signaling an amended ruling by a Pulaski County Circuit Court judge December 19th for payment of the debt incurred in the purchase of the NABORS waste hauling operation and the local landfill.

Karen Hopper has the story.



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Baxter County Assessor Jayme Nicholson and her fellow colleagues in the six counties comprising the Ozark Mountain Solid Waste District have been waiting since early October for the judge's amended ruling. In early October, the court appointed receiver gave his verbal approval to a recommendation by the assessors they felt was more equitable in addressing the debt collection.

Until early October, there had been only limited contact between the receiver and local officials, with the exception of one meeting in late August that ended in an impasse.

At that juncture, Nicholson took the lead, working with her fellow assessors, in response to the court order they did not agree with and maintained could not be implemented in the time frame set out by the receiver.

The amended ruling by Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox approved the recommendation of the assessors in its entirety. The ruling calls for an annual service fee of $18 to be assessed against each residence and business parcel located within the six counties in the Ozark Mountain Solid Waste District--Baxter, Marion, Searcy, Boone, Newton and Carroll.

For clarification, the ruling includes all improved parcels within the district, including residential building, commercial business, commercial improved, residential improved, mobile homes, agriculture improved and agriculture building.

In an earlier interview with KTLO, Classic Hits 101.7 and The Boot news, Nicholson said the only exceptions to the $18 fee will be vacant land and exempt properties such as churches.

The two-page ruling notes the service fee shall commence in 2018 and continue until such time as the claims of the trustee and the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality have been paid in full.

The judge's ruling sets in motion the content of the bright yellow statements planned as an insert into tax bills for 2017. Baxter County Collector Teresa Smith said working with County Attorney David Ethredge she has developed the language appearing on the yellow statements.

It notes the fee was not assessed by the Baxter County Quorum Court nor assessed by a vote of the Baxter County citizens. It further notes Collector Smith is court ordered for the collection of the $18 service fee.

Any questions about the fee and its collection process are to be directed to the court appointed receiver, Attorney Geoffrey Treece in Little Rock. His mailing address, phone number and email address are provided on the statements.

The efforts to carry out the judge's amended order is the latest in a saga that began when the Northwest Arkansas Regional Solid Waste District defaulted on the payment of principal and interest to the bondholders in November 2012 and stopped trash collections. After the district defaulted on its debt, Bank of the Ozarks--as trustee of the bondholders--sued the district in Pulaski County Circuit Court.

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