WV Supreme Court says Pocahontas County residents must pay refus - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

WV Supreme Court says Pocahontas County residents must pay refuse service fees

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The state Supreme Court rejected an appeal by some Pocahontas County residents who don't think they should have to pay mandatory garbage fees if they recycle, compost and make use of "free days" at the local landfill.

Residents John Leyzorek, Douglas H. Bernier and Charlotte W. Elza had appealed a circuit court order that collectively assessed several thousand dollars in fees, penalties and interest against them for their non-payment, but the court affirmed the circuit court ruling and calling their arguments "frivolous."

The three had insisted they should be exempt from paying for garbage service because they use alternative methods of disposal, but the court said not using so-called "green boxes" for recycling or subscribing to the refuse service "does not excuse the non-payment" of the refuse fee.

A Pocahontas County Circuit judge disagreed, however, ordering Bernier to pay $49 in unpaid “green box” fees for 2006, plus $150 in statutory penalties as well as costs and pre- and post-judgment interest; Leyzorek was ordered to pay $498 in unpaid “green box” fees for 2001 through 2006, plus $900 in statutory penalties, costs and pre- and post-judgment interest as well as a judgment. Elza, too, was fined $498 in unpaid green box fees for 2001 through 2006, plus $90 in statutory penalties, plus costs and pre- and post-judgment interest.

Leyzorek, Bernier and Elza also questioned whether a county has the authority to enact a mandatory refuse service fee, an argument the court dismissed as "meritless." They also also questioned whether they were being deprived of equal protection and if the "green box" fee was permissible tax under the state constitution.

The court, however, found that a mandatory refuse fee “is a reasonable and valid exercise of the police powers" and that county and regional solid waste authorities have a duty to develop a comprehensive litter and solid waste control plan and thus have rule-making authority.

"The Court concludes that the circuit court correctly awarded respondent summary judgment because the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for petitioners," the justice pointed out in the memorandum decision.