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County sorts through solid waste user fee appeals

By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO — March 16, 2010 — If you’re one of more than 400 property owners who’ve submitted solid waste user fee appeals to Sullivan County, a refund check could be headed your way in the next few months – or not.
Only about 30 appeals have thus far been reviewed, said Deputy County Manager Josh Potosek, who with Treasurer Ira Cohen and Public Works Commissioner Bob Meyer has been poring over the reams of paperwork.
They only got one chance to meet earlier this month, due to illnesses that sidelined Potosek and put Cohen in the hospital (both are recovering and back at work).
This week, they’re scheduled to meet again twice, first tackling what Potosek called the “more complicated” and “unique” appeals.
For example, one appealed parcel straddles two townships in the county. Thus, it was assessed two separate user fees due to it having two separate section-block-lot (SBL) numbers, said Potosek.
The appeals committee, he added, will recommend the Legislature refund one of the two user fees, but he could not specify how many more of the already-reviewed 30 will bear similar recommendations.
“So far,” he explained of his and his counterparts’ discussions, “everything’s been unanimous.”
Deputy Treasurer Nancy Buck visited legislators on Thursday to ensure their willingness to put the final stamp of approval on approved and denied appeals – though they will not be directly involved in the review process.
Potosek said Buck has also been working closely with town assessors to research and verify data on every contested parcel.
And he’s been watching closely to see what kind of fiscal impact these refunds may have on the county.
“I don’t think it’s going to be large,” said Potosek.
Legislators may vote on issuing/denying refunds as early as this Thursday, though that remains uncertain. With more than 400 appeals sitting on Buck’s desk and the ability of more to be filed as late as September 30, Potosek acknowledged he and Cohen and Meyer could be meeting regularly for months.
“I’m hoping we can get the vast majority done next week,” he stated last week. “The bulk of them are going to go quickly.”
Still, once the Legislature approves refunds, Buck said the complexities of the involved paperwork may mean taxpayers will have to wait up to a month to receive their refund checks.
And don’t expect that simply because you sent in an appeal you’re likely to get a refund – even if you currently ship your trash out of the county.
“The county attorney feels if you’re generating waste, the fee will apply,” said Potosek.

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