- The Benton County Regional Solid Waste Management District has filed a lawsuit seeking to have a portion of Arkansas state law regarding solid waste fees declared unconstitutional. Benton County wants to stop the neighboring Boston Mountain district from collecting fees for waste generated locally.
- The problem: the Eco-Vista landfill where Benton County takes its waste is in the Boston Mountain district. Boston Mountain does not pay fees directly to the landfill, but says it's entitled to collect a portion of Benton County's fees because the landfill is a limited local resource. Waste Management owns and operates the Eco-Vista site.
- The issue dates back to a 2011 agreement that allowed each district to charge $1.50 per ton of waste generated. Since then, lawsuits and board resolutions have played out contesting the agreement. The Boston Mountain district is currently asking $1 per ton for any waste sent to its landfill and the Benton County district would keep the remaining $.50 per ton.
The Benton County district says their only intention is to find a compromise and clarify the law. The fee also covers collection costs, and officials are concerned this could be affected without proper funding.
"I totally agree we need to pay for our usage of the landfill. To me, that's not an issue. What their fair share is, that's what we're arguing about," Jackie Crabtree, chairman of the Benton County district's board of directors, told the Democrat-Gazette.
While solid waste districts can be a good solution to help small municipalities save money and increase recycling rates, they can also come with unexpected consequences. Arkansas officials are still sorting out regional responsibility for the estimated $15.9 million cost to close the NABORS landfill in Baxter County.
Earlier this year, elected officials in Indiana voted to approve a bill allowing counties to disband the state's 25-year-old solid waste districts due to questions of cost efficiency. Governor Mike Pence signed the bill into law in March. Starting in July 2017, countries can eliminate their solid waste districts with the approval of both county councils and commissioners.