Bennett resigns SPSA post

Published 10:01 pm Thursday, February 19, 2009

Suffolk City Councilman Leroy Bennett has resigned as the city’s representative to the Southeastern Public Service Authority board of directors, and his fellow councilman, Jeffrey Gardy, is the new representative to the board.

The move comes at a time when the beleaguered trash disposal authority is unsure if it will remain solvent through the end of the fiscal year, June 30.

Mayor Linda T. Johnson announced Bennett’s resignation near the end of Wednesday’s public meeting. She said she received the resignation this week.

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“I just felt I’ve been there a long time, and maybe new ideas may be a help,” Bennett said after the meeting. He said council members believed that having a lawyer representing Suffolk on SPSA’s board will be helpful in the challenges SPSA is facing.

Bennett said he felt he had to endure more challenges than most on the SPSA board because Suffolk is the only community that does not pay a tipping fee – a contractual agreement designed to pay Suffolk back for hosting the landfill. Tipping fees are the fees charged for communities to dump their trash in the landfill.

“It was not easy sitting there, being a non-paying member, and the abuse I had to take,” Bennett said. “I sat there and took it like a man.”

Some of Bennett’s fellow council members applauded him for his representation on the board. Councilman Charles Brown told Bennett that the proverbial SPSA horse was dying when Bennett got there.

“You did everything you could to save it, but it’s still dying,” Brown said.

Gardy said after the meeting that he brings more than 40 years of legal experience to SPSA’s upcoming challenges of restructuring the organization and refinancing debt. In addition, there’s one other thing he thinks will help get to the bottom of SPSA’s woes.

“I’ve been considered as mean as a junkyard dog,” he said. ‘I’m going to see if we can’t figure out what the problem is.”