Methvin Sanitation sues solid waste districts regarding fees

Methvin Sanitation has sued two solid waste districts for what it says are excessive fees charged for dumping trash at a landfill in Fulton County.

The Harrison Daily Times reports the suit was filed in Boone County Circuit Court last week and names both the Ozark Mountain Solid Waste District and the White River Regional Solid Waste Management District as defendants.

At an Ozark Mountain district board meeting in August 2017, district lawyer John Verkamp told board members trash haulers working in the district — consisting of Baxter, Boone, Carroll, Marion, Newton and Searcy counties— are licensed by the district.

Under the licensing requirement, a hauler must pay all fees in the district, consisting of $2 per ton of solid waste hauled to a landfill outside the district.

However, Verkamp said, Methvin Sanitation stopped paying the fee the previous April because it was also being charged a $1 per-ton fee at the landfill in Fulton County, which is in the White River Regional Solid Waste Management District.

The Ozark Mountain district had owned the NABORS landfill in northern Baxter County. The Baxter County landfill was closed in November 2012, leading Methvin to begin hauling waste to the Fulton County landfill.

Owner Mark Methvin told the board he had been charged the $1 per ton fee for White River from the time he started hauling there.

In essence, Methvin said, he has been charged $3 a ton in fees, and he estimated he had overpaid the Ozark Mountain district more than $100,000.

Board President and Baxter County Judge Mickey Pendergrass said the Ozark Mountain board had no idea the White River district had been charging Methvin anything other than normal tipping fees until that time.

He pointed out not paying the Ozark Mountain tipping fee would affect Methvin’s license.

Verkamp asked Methvin if both the Ozark Mountain fee and the White River fee were figured into his bids for solid waste service contracts.

Methvin said the bid covered all costs. He then asked if the Ozark Mountain district would consider refunding him or giving him a credit if it were shown he was overcharged.

But Verkamp asked Methvin if he would consider giving his customers a refund if not paying the local fee. Methvin said he didn’t consider that an issue.

Board member and Berryville Mayor Tim McKinney said the law concerning the local fee is designed as income for the district to finance solid waste and recycling programs. The law wouldn’t work if only districts in which landfills are located get those fees.

In the lawsuit, Methvin maintains one or both districts had threatened to revoke the hauling license if the “excessive” fee is not paid. The suit seeks an injunction barring those districts from such action while the lawsuit is pending.

Methvin also asks the court to require both districts to create an interlocal agreement regarding how those fees are assessed and divided.

"In the alternative," the suit readys, " (Methvin) requests the court mandate the defendants to equally divide the $2 per ton fee between the districts.”"

The suit also seeks a judgment against the districts for the amount the company paid above the statutory $2 per ton allowed since June 1, 2017.

The beleaguered Ozark Mountain district already faces lawsuits in Baxter, Boone, Carroll, Marion and Newton counties over the $18 fee being charged on property taxes to repay bondholders for the NABORS landfill debacle.

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