$6.6 million in water fees headed back to East Lansing taxpayers

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Some East Lansing residents could see $6.6 million coming back to them if they are a Lansing Board of Water and Light customers, after the City of East Lansing lost a class-action lawsuit.

In 2017, BWL started collecting a 5% franchise fee from all East Lansing customers and passing that on to the city. A fee that brings the city around $1.4 million a year. 

In April 2020, Jim Heos, an East Lansing resident sued the city for the fees saying, they were unlawful taxes. 

BWL serves 89% of the city. The money goes into the city’s general fund. Meaning that money also helps people who aren’t paying for it. On March 31, Judge Wanda Stokes of Ingham County Circuit Court. Michigan has district, circuit, appeals, and supreme courts. 

The attorney on the case Andre Abood, said in a press release, “We are happy with the verdict… We also look forward to obtaining refunds for these illegal taxes on behalf of the citizens of East Lansing who were forced to pay them since June 2017.”

Jackson Blackledge, a resident of East Lansing said, “I moved to East Lansing in 2018, and the second it gets confirmed that money will go back to residents, I will submit a form, and all of my billing information, so I can get the money back.”

BWL released a statement saying it will cooperate with all court rulings. Claiming they do not put the fees in place, the city does. LBWL said it does not put fees in place, the city does, and that it will cooperate with all court rulings.

The City of East Lansing has declined to comment saying it is still reviewing the decision.