Q2 reports that six residents are suing to stop the city of Billings from imposing franchise fees on water, sewer and garbage services that are directed to the city’s general fund. The six rate payers are plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed in Yellowstone County District Court, alleging that the fees amount to an illegal sales tax designed to raise revenue for the municipality. They’re asking the judge to certify the suit as class action on behalf of 30,000 Billings rate payers, according to a Thursday press release.

The original plaintiffs are Billings residents Terry Houser, Terry Odegard, state Sen. Roger Webb, Mae Woo and Kathryn and Thomas Zurbuchen. The city collected $2.3 million in franchise fees in 2017, transferred to the general fund. They charged a 4 percent fee for water and sewer and 5 percent for garbage disposal.

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