Authorities say West Buechel's $125 fee for truckers may be illegal

WEST BUECHEL, Ky. (WDRB) -- The embattled city of West Buechel may be collecting an illegal tax that's gone unnoticed for years, and it was all brought to light by a truck driver's Facebook post.

The town of 1,300 has taxes and fees for just about everything, including a $125-a-year fee for any person, firm or corporation delivering to a business in the city. The town says the tax is for "the privilege of using the public ways."

But truckers like James Willinger of YRC Freight think it's a gimmick.

"We already got permits and licensing to deliver anywhere we want, pretty much," Willinger said.

It's sporadically enforced. City staff says fewer than 20 people paid last year.

"No one's ever approached me," Jason Edwards said while making a dairy delivery at Kroger. "No police officer or anybody has ever approached me about it."

It may be more than just a gimmick. In fact, it may be illegal. 

Senate Bill 153, which was passed back in 2015, "added explicit language to prohibit cities or counties from imposing fees or taxes on any private or for-hire commercial motor vehicle for the loading or unloading of property, including household goods."

Kentucky League of Cities says West Buechel's ordinance is in conflict with state law.

"It expressively states a city cannot impose that type of fee,"  KLC Municipal Law attorney Chris Johnson said. "They can impose other fees, but based upon the wording of the ordinance as it is and the current state law, there is a conflict." 

Johnson said every trucker or company who paid the fee may be due a refund.

A truck driver from Mississippi delivering to the Lowe's in West Buechel brought the problem to light with a Facebook post, saying a city code enforcement officer handed him an application for an unloading license.

The post went viral with the hashtag #NotDeliveringHereAnymore.

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Willinger received the same warning and handles them in his own way. 

"I get them almost every time I come over this way, and I tear them up and throw them in the garbage," he said. "West Buechel might need the money, I don't know, but you're not getting ours, I can tell you that."

City leaders refused to comment on-camera about this story on Tuesday. A city clerk who has been inundated with calls about the tax since the post went viral said she asked the city to take up the controversial fee at Tuesday 6 p.m. council meeting.

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