Atlanta sued over allegedly ‘illegal taxes’ posing as waste fees

08/05/2021 —Atlanta, Georgia — Trash cans and biodegradable bags full of yard trimmings sit undisturbed outside of a house in Atlanta’s Kirkwood community, Thursday, August 5, 2021.  (Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal Constitution)

Credit: Alyssa Pointer

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08/05/2021 —Atlanta, Georgia — Trash cans and biodegradable bags full of yard trimmings sit undisturbed outside of a house in Atlanta’s Kirkwood community, Thursday, August 5, 2021. (Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal Constitution)

Credit: Alyssa Pointer

Atlanta is facing litigation from condominium owners seeking relief from the city’s years-old annual garbage fees.

In 2019, the city’s annual frontage fees for trash pick up and street sweeping increased to a range of $500 to $12,000 per property for commercial or multi-family developments, according to the complaint filed in Fulton Superior Court in February.

However, the lawsuit alleges Atlanta’s frontage fee is “an illegal tax, rather than a reasonable fee for any solid waste collection services provided by the City.” The litigation also alleges Atlanta “has not engaged” in waste collection for them, nor has Atlanta “generally” performed collections for other, similar properties.

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The plaintiffs, who are seeking fee refunds, alleged Atlanta will receive $28 million in fee revenue in fiscal year 2021 alone — within the scope of approximately $80 million in fee revenue over the past five years.

A spokeswoman for Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms declined to comment on the pending litigation.

The Atlanta City Council recently held a special two-hour executive session with the city’s law department after C. Elisia Frazier, Atlanta’s managing deputy city attorney, said the city needed to discuss the litigation in relation to solid waste fees. The council also listened to complaints from condo residents, including many seeking refunds.

“For over 10 years, we’ve been lobbying to get these unfair solid waste fees eliminated,” said Margaret Roach, vice president of the Cross Creek Condominium Association in Buckhead.

The complaint was filed by Anne McKillips and Gary McKillips and the 351 Group, LLC. The McKillips own two multi-family condos in the Buckhead community. The 351 Group owns commercial property along Moreland Avenue.

The property owners claimed to have “generally contracted privately” for waste collection, documents show.

In March, the city’s attorneys tried to get the court to dismiss the McKillips lawsuit, but Fulton Superior Court Judge Kelly Lee Ellerbe denied the city’s request in May. The court dismissed a previous lawsuit on this matter.

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