Class-action ‘franchise fees’ suit begins with millions at stake for Montana’s largest city

BILLINGS – Nearly four years ago, seven Billings residents decided to take Montana’s largest city to court, alleging that fees it had added to water bills were an illegal sales tax.

Since then, two of the group have died and at least five different judges have touched the case before retired Gallatin County Judge Mike Salvagni was literally called in off the bench to help decide the matter that could involve nearly every household in the city and see a settlement of more than $50 million.