Thursday, August 13th, 2009
Trash haulers will not need special license
By Shelley Grieshop
An opinion from the Ohio Attorney General's office has led the local health department to cease issuing annual licenses to solid waste haulers.
The decision will cost the Mercer County-Celina City Health Department approximately $2,500 annually, officials said during the health board's monthly meeting on Wednesday.
The issue comes on the heels of controversy between the agency and a Shelby County trash hauler who in recent months challenged the health department's authority to license haulers. Jim Hemmelgarn, owner of Hemmelgarn Roll-off Services of Sidney, for months had told the health board their policy to license haulers was not supported by state law.
Hemmelgarn quit the battle last month and purchased a permit. At the same time, the health board had decided to review their policy and possibly make changes prior to issuing new licenses in January.
The health department recently received the opinion from the attorney general's office, which was prompted by an inquiry in July by Paul A. Dobson, a Wood County prosecuting attorney.
Richard Cordray, Ohio Attorney General, stated in his reply: "The board of health of a general health district has no authority to require haulers of solid waste to obtain a license from, or pay a fee to, the health district in order to operate within the district."
Cordray's opinion goes on to say that health boards do have the authority to enforce regulations that govern the collection and transportation of solid waste to prevent the creation of nuisances.
The opinion also states that, although health departments have no right to license the trucks used by solid waste haulers, municipalities do.
"I guess the city of Celina could enact a policy to license (trash haulers), but we can't," county Sanitarian Michelle Kimmel said.
Hemmelgarn's argument focused on the idea that haulers removing construction debris out of Mercer County, not general solid waste, should be exempt from the license policy.
The health department has been charging haulers $100 for one truck and $25 for additional trucks for annual licenses, which were renewed each January.
License fees paid this year will not be reimbursed, but haulers will not have to renew those licenses at the beginning of the year.