Trash lawsuit: County working on plan
Commissioner taking ideas at meetings

LAWRENCEVILLE - District 3 Commissioner Mike Beaudreau's traveling trash committee comes to Stone Mountain on Monday for the fourth of five scheduled public meetings to discuss ideas for a new county solid waste plan.

Because of a December preliminary injunction granted to three waste haulers - Southern Sanitation, Sanitation Solutions and Republic Services - the county is

operating under its 2007 plan until a new one can be implemented.

The preliminary injunction, which Gwinnett is appealing, prevented the county from allowing two haulers - Waste Pro and Advanced Disposal - to take over the entire residential trash collection services in Gwinnett County.

After Monday's session one more meeting will be held at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center with garbage haulers and the public presenting their ideas, said Mack Perry, a member of Beaudreau's 15-member trash committee. Then the committee will formulate the ideas into recommendations that Perry hopes Beaudreau will present to the entire Board of Commissioners.

"With the efforts put into this by the committee, the Board of Commissioners would be stupid to not at least listen to the recommendations," Perry said.

With nearly two months having past since the injunction was granted, its 120-day expiration clock is ticking, and the county has yet to release the timeline of how it is planning to proceed with developing a new plan moving forward.

"The timeline is not ready yet," county spokesman Joe Sorenson said Wednesday. "The staff is working on it and hopes to have something firm in the coming weeks."

In other trash news, Sorenson said the number of calls coming into the county's special garbage hotline have begun to recede. In early January the call center was taking in more than 200 calls per day. That number has now dropped to, on average, just over 100. Sorenson said the majority of calls are also becoming more generalized with the most common issues being a household's status request on receiving a refund from a carrier and the picking up and dropping off of garbage and recycling receptacles.

"We are beginning to receive calls on the range of topics previously 'owned' by Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful," he said. "The call center is also performing follow-up calls to residents who have reported issues since the week of Jan. 15. The majority of residents are responding that their previous issues have been resolved."

Because of the preliminary injunction the county had to sever its ties with the nonprofit private corporation Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful, which the county had delegated to carry out its waste management responsibilities under the now invalid solid waste plan.

Sorenson added that the county is preparing to file its answer denying liability in the Waste Pro lawsuit filed against it in Fulton County Jan. 29. In that suit, Waste Pro states that in preparing to carry out the now defunct solid waste plan, the company "expended in excess of $12 million to acquire trucks, garbage and recycling carts, storage and operational facilities, hardware, software and personnel." The suit goes on to say that Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful is liable to Waste Pro "in an amount to be proven at trial, but in no event less than $40 million."

Sorenson said, so far, the county has been billed $26,208 for legal fees incurred on the Southern Sanitation/Sanitation Solutions/Republic case and has yet to be billed for the Fulton suit pertaining to Waste Pro. He also said that Advanced Disposal has not as yet joined in that lawsuit.