A local attorney is ready to make his case against Gwinnett's controversial trash plan in front of the Georgia Supreme Court.
Attorney Chris McClurg and Gwinnett resident Robert Mesteller filed an appeal to the Supreme Court in September, refuting a summary judgment previously issued by a Superior Court judge. McClurg and his client argue that Gwinnett County's solid waste collection agreement, which was reached in 2010, violates residents' rights in several ways.
The agreement divides the county into several different residential zones and assigns a different garbage collector to each area. The waste haulers provide monthly bills to the county, which pays them based on the number of residential units they served that month.
Residents are then charged one year of upfront fees on their property tax bills.
McClurg said there are fundamental issues with the trash plan -- which has been deplored by many residents since its inception -- that are both illegal and unconstitutional.
"The biggest issue is if you didn't pay your (full) property tax bill (because you didn't want to pay for trash collection), they'll put a lien on your property," McClurg said. "They just took a private relationship and, essentially, the county is now using itself as a bill collector with governmental powers to foreclose on your property."
McClurg said the county also collects interest on the money paid in advance by residents.
The county refutes those and other points made by McClurg.
"This court as far back as 1923 has held that where a local government has the power to do something in its grant of authority, it has the power to do what is necessary to implement that power, including entering into contracts," attorney Frank Jenkins III, representing the county, argued in his brief.
The county argues that the fee is not a tax, as argued by McClurg, but merely a charge for solid waste collection services provided through the county.
Both parties are scheduled to make oral arguments in front of the Georgia Supreme Court on Monday afternoon.