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Group questions legality of landfill tax

Saturday, May 3, 2014, 1:46 a.m.

An organization representing landfill operators across Pennsylvania is questioning the legality of Elizabeth Forward School District's $3-a-ton user tax.

The president of the Pennsylvania Waste Industries Association said a 1988 state law establishing host municipality benefit fees pre-empts the state law used as the basis for Elizabeth Forward's tax.

“Although we have not seen the specific action taken by the Elizabeth Forward school board, we do want to reiterate that Act 101 was created to ensure a uniform system of solid waste management and recycling regulation statewide,” Mark Pedersen said Friday.

The tax was passed by the Elizabeth Forward school board on April 23 and would take effect 30 days later. The enabling resolution said the district “is empowered by the Local Tax Enabling Act” of 1965.

Act 101 of 1988, otherwise known as the Municipal Waste, Planning, Recycling and Waste Reduction Act, establishes what now is a $1.30-a-ton fee charged by Forward Township to cover damage to roads by trucks taking trash to the Kelly Run landfill along Route 51.

“Act 101 does pre-empt and supersede the Pennsylvania Local Tax Enabling Act, which is reportedly the authority for this proposed tax,” said Pedersen, whose association represents private-sector recyclers, waste haulers and landfill operators throughout Pennsylvania.

His association is the state chapter of the National Solid Wastes Management Association.

Pedersen's stance is similar to that stated in a Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development taxation manual.

“(Act 101) pre-empts and supersedes any tax on landfills or resource recovery facilities above the rate in effect on Dec. 31, 1987,” the manual says. “No new landfill privilege taxes may be enacted.”

Elizabeth Forward officials did not return calls requesting comment at presstime.

Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967, or



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