HOLLIDAYSBURG, BLAIR COUNTY - The final settlement of a law suit over trash hauling will mean a substantial windfall for some Blair County companies. But some county leaders say the money should go back to the people who pay their trash bills. This legal case has taken about a decade to resolve. The bottom line is Blair County will have to return about half a million dollars in illegally collected tipping fees.
Starting back in the early 1990's , Blair County started collecting a special tipping fee on trash collected in the county and taken to one of the county's authorized trash transfer stations or landfills for disposal. The County used the revenue to support a variety of recycling, composting and solid waste disposal programs. But the companies forced to collect the tipping fees sued and won.
While the matter was appealed to the higher courts in the State, Blair County kept collecting the fees and placed that money in an escrow account. The State Supreme Court eventually ruled in favor of the trash companies. Now a Blair County Judge has ordered the county to return the money to the companies which collected it. And some Blair Commissioners are calling on the companies involved to pass those funds on to their customers. But the Attorney representing one of the transfer stations pointed out that that county was only returning part of the money that was collected under the transfer tax that the State declared unconstitutional. It was his position that the money to be returned is revenue the companies earned.
While the Blair Commissioners say they're not about tell companies how to run their businesses, they did make it clear their first interest is protecting county residents. The Blair County escrow account to cover the cost of this court settlement has now grown to more than five hundred and fifty thousand dollars. The fund is expected to cover the entire cost of the court settlement.