Good Neighbor Campaigns

Colerain Township argues Rumpke’s public utility status

COLERAIN TOWNSHIP — In a brief filed yesterday in the Supreme Court of Ohio, Colerain Township laid out its latest arguments against the claim made by owners of the Rumpke Sanitary Landfill that it is a public utility. Rumpke’s claim rests on three arguments: 1) the essential nature of solid waste collection services; 2) the regional monopoly Rumpke has on providing those services and 3) its promise that it will stay open and provide those services. The township counters by saying that since privately owned landfills are not obliged by law to provide service, set rates in public hearings or offer uniform rates and service based on cost, they do  not fit the definition of a public utility set by the Supreme Court of Ohio in previous case law.

The township further argues conditions do exist to declare as public utilities Ohio’s solid waste management districts, which were created to “reduce reliance on landfills for solid waste management”. The Hamilton County Solid Waste Management District, which oversees activity at Rumpke’s landfill, has adopted an open-market solid waste management plan, in which no single landfill is more important than any other. When Rumpke asked the District to “designate” its landfill and support their expansion proposal, the District declined. Attorneys for Colerain Township assert that this effort was an attempt to bring the landfill under the District’s public utility umbrella.

The Supreme Court of Ohio announced in July that it would hear Colerain Township’s final appeal of Rumpke’s designation as a public utility. No date has yet been set.

— Melissa K. English, Development Director, Ohio Citizen Action