Environment | Law

County claims Nez Perce Tribe owes over $325K in garbage fees






Leaders of the Nez Perce Tribe of Idaho. Photo from NPT

Officials in Idaho County say the Nez Perce Tribe owes more than $325,000 in garbage collection fees.

The fees cover the years 1995 to 2014, The Lewiston Tribune reported. Additional fees are reportedly owed for the years 1987 to 1994 but those haven't been calculated.

Normally, the county attaches utility bills to property tax bills. But since the tribe doesn't receive property tax bills for its lands, the garbage bills that should have been mailed were never sent, a county official said.

“Basically, Idaho County has historically sent out its annual garbage utility fee attached to each property tax bill," the county said in a letter to the tribe, The Idaho County Free Press reported. "As you know, Nez Perce Tribe owned lands do not receive a property tax bill. As a result of this fact, our billing system also omitted the garbage utility bill for the Nez Perce Tribe owned properties. One is a tax, the other is a utility bill. The oversight dates back at least 28 years.”

It;s possible, however, that the county may not have the authority to impose the fees even if they are not labeled as a "tax." In Wisconsin, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals said a local government cannot impose storm water management fees on trust lands owned by the Oneida Nation.

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case in May.

Get the Story:
Idaho County sends tribe $300,000 garbage bill (The Lewiston Tribune 8/5)
Idaho County sends $325,000 garbage bill to Nez Perce Tribe (AP / The Lewiston Tribune 8/5)
County to tribe: pay your garbage bill (The Idaho County Free Press 7/29)