BILLINGS — A Montana judge has certified a class-action lawsuit that claims the city of Billings improperly taxed residents by imposing franchise fees on their utility bills.
The Billings Gazette reports that Wednesday’s ruling by District Judge Gregory Pinski increases the number of plaintiffs from seven people to about 35,000.
Plaintiffs’ attorney Matthew Monforton says Billings ratepayers are closer to recovering some of the money he says the city illegally took for years. City attorneys say the lawsuit is moot because Billings no longer collects the fees, and at least some of the original plaintiffs didn’t object to the fees in past public hearings.
Billings started charging the fees in 1992 and ended the practice last year. They included a 4 percent fee for water and wastewater services, and 5 percent for solid waste disposal services.