August 31, 1993
Recently you contacted Ed Archer and Ronnie Neill of MTAS with a question concerning solid waste disposal fees. It seems that the county has imposed a six dollar a month fee for each residence to help offset solid waste disposal cost. You wanted to know if the town contracted with a private waste disposal firm, could the citizens stop paying this fee. The answer is no.
T.C.A. 68-211-835(g)(1) reads in pertinent part:
... a county, municipality or solid waste authority is authorized to impose and collect a solid waste disposal fee. Funds generated from such fees may only be used to establish and maintain solid waste collection and disposal services, including, but not limited to, convenience centers. All residents of the of the county shall have access to these services. The amount of the fee shall bear a reasonable relationship to the cost of providing the solid waste disposal services. Such fees shall be segregated from the general fund and shall be used only for the purposes for which they were collected.
Presently the county and the City jointly run the landfill for the county and have imposed the six dollar fee. This statute clearly gives them the authority to impose this fee. The only exception is in subsection (g)(3) and bars collection of the fee from any generator of solid waste that runs its own disposal system. In short for the city to be exempt from the fee, it must run its own landfill.
The only mention of contract solid waste disposal in the entire Solid Waste Disposal Act is at T.C.A. 68-211-854. This section just says that no part of the Act shall prohibit a county, municipality or solid waste authority from entering into a contract for solid waste disposal with a private entity. It makes no mention of any exemption from the fee. Without any specific mention of such an exemption anywhere in the statute, I must conclude that the citizens of the city are subject to the fee, even if a private disposal service is used.
The town and its citizens are thus left with little choice of remedy. It can see if the county will exempt the town from the fee. Failing that, it may contest the amount of the fee on the basis that it is more than is needed for actual disposal of each residents solid waste.
I am sorry I can not be of more help in this matter. Please feel free to contact me if I may be of any further assistance.
Very truly yours,