City waits for response
Published 12:00 am Friday, August 6, 1999
from landfill owner
By MICHELLE J. WILSON
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Published Aug. 6, 1999
Officials from the city of Troy are waiting to hear a response from a Brundidge waste disposal firm about an alleged breach of contract.
City of Brundidge representatives plan to present the company with similar claims this week.
The action marks the first time in at least 15 years that Troy has filed a legal complaint against one of its vendors, said Johnny Witherington, president of Troy City Council.
Council authorized the Troy law firm of Cevera, Ralph and Butts to file a formal complaint on behalf of the city of Troy against Waste Away Group Inc. involving Brundidge Waste Disposal Group Inc. May 25.
The complaint alleged Waste Away breached a contract when it refused to let Troy dump garbage in its landfill, Witherington said.
The agreement between the city and Waste Away began in the late 1980s when the Environmental Protection Agency regulations made operating a solid waste landfill for the city of Troy economically impossible, he said. The new laws required cities to line landfills with thick plastics and install wells to measure leaking of liquids from the landfill.
Troy contracted with the Brundidge Company to dispose of its garbage. Brundidge Waste Disposal Center Inc., which is not affiliated with the city of Brundidge, agreed to haul solid waste to its landfill for a fee, he said. The company also agreed to build a recycling center.
Troy began plans to close its landfill, which cost the city between $350,000 and $500,000, Witherington said. The landfill was closed because it did not meet the new EPA regulations. Bringing the landfill up to code would have been economically prohibitive.
Brundidge Waste Disposal merged with Waste Away in December of 1997, he said.
Waste Away refused to allow Troy to put garbage in its landfill and did not build the recycling center. As a result, Troy had to haul its garbage to the Coffee County landfill and build its own recycling center, Witherington said.
About a month ago, Troy officials met with Waste Away’s attorneys and gave them the amount of damages incurred, said Troy Mayor Jimmy C. Lunsford. The purpose of that meeting was to settle the claim without arbitration or going to court.
"We filed a notice of intent with Waste Management stating a dollar figure for damages incurred and gave them 30 days to invoke the arbitration clause included in the contract or we would file suit," Lunsford said. "The company responded on the last day of the contract."
Troy alleges Waste Away’s action of not opening the landfill and constructing a recycling center cost them $2.3 million, said Alton Starling, city of Troy clerk and treasurer.
Lunsford said he anticipates a response from Waste Away within the next two weeks.
City of Brundidge officials are planning to meet this week with Waste Management representatives to discuss their claim, said Brundidge Mayor Jimmy Ramage.
"Our claim concerns that the landfill never opened," Ramage said. "We would have had substantial income up to this point and for years to come from tipping fees had the landfill opened."
A tipping fee is based on every load dumped at a landfill. Brundidge negotiated the fee of 50 cents per ton of garbage.
Ramage said Brundidge has lost several hundred thousand per year as a result of the alleged breach of contract.
Besides losing revenue from tipping fees, Brundidge has incurred additional costs by having to haul its garbage to the Coffee County landfill, Ramage said.
"We are not pleased we are having to take this action," Witherington said. "But we are not good stewards of the tax payers if we do not try to recoup this cost.
"Our loss is so great that we have no other alternative but to pursue this remedy. We have to ask for relief from the loss we have suffered."