Ga. Supreme Court to Take A Look At Gwinnett Trash Plan
Gwinnett’s trash plan will be argued in front of the Georgia Supreme Court Monday. A Superior Court judge ruled in favor of the county in September.
Loganville resident Verlin Gilliam was not successful in his attempt to challenge the law and nor was Snellville resident Robert Mesteller.
But Mesteller is not giving up.
According to The Gwinnett Daily Post, Mesteller’s attorney, Chris McClurg, will argue the case in front of the Georgia Supreme Court Monday. This is an appeal to a Superior Court judgment on the issue that went against Mesteller in September. Mesteller contends that a fee, as in the case of solid waste collection, is not a tax and should not be added to a tax bill.
In the summer of 2011, the courts ruled that the county has the authority to contract with private companies to provide trash serves and to charge the fees on the property tax bill and collect the fees as far in advance as is reasonably necessary. Both Mesteller and Gilliam filed the lawsuit after Gwinnett County awarded contracts to five private residential haulers awarded contracts on July 16, 2010. Gilliam's unsuccessful lawsuit was particulary related to his escrow account and the impact of the trash plan on that account. At the time, however, the county said escrow accounts were taken into account.
The county’s trash plan, which went into effect July 1, 2010, billed residents for trash pick-up on their property tax bills, collecting the first payment for 18 months in advance. According to the GDP story, McClurg said the plan is illegal and unconstitutional. Cited as examples of this is the fact that the county can put a lien on the property of someone who doesn't pay for the trash service, which is essentially a private not government arrangement. Another issue in contention for Mesteller is the fact that the government collects interest on the money it bills up front.
State Rep. Brett Harrell, who represents Snellville and parts of Loganville, said on his Facebook page on Sunday that regardless of the outcome of this latest litigation, he doesn't think it is good policy to include non-tax fees on an ad valorem property tax bill.
"Cities and counties that practice this billing scheme have the authority to correct this assault on your private property today," Harrell wrote, adding, "I plan to re-introduce HB 291 next Session to prevent this practice legislatively. Taxes and only taxes should appear on your property tax bill."