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Trash plan to be argued in front of Ga. Supreme Court

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.

Comments

R 1 year, 5 months ago

"The county argues that the fee is not a tax,"

Essentially the same claim with ObamaCare and tax/penalty argument which the Supreme Court just addressed and equated.

So let’s get that out of the way. If you are basing your position on 1923 case law that government can enforce its policy by any means necessary – it’s a TAX increase.

Per GOVERNMENT claim, “Trash SERVICE” has NOW become a CORE government service, therefore, it’s like EMS - it’s funded by a TAX.

It’s collected on a tax bill in ADVANCE just like EMS, it’s a TAX.

It’s not a fee operation like Gwinnett County Water or THAT service would be included on my property tax bill too.

There is a little known benefit these resident lawsuits against Gwinnett have produced behind the scenes. Each time there has been a court challenge, the county has worked to refine the program rules.

Many residents probably aren’t aware of this, but part of the BoC meeting where the Briscoe brouhaha met its final demise (For 2012 at least) there were some housekeeping ordinance changes made to the current trash plan, in particular the power to accept/collect payment from sources other than on property tax bills. Futures benefits or are they quietly aware that this entire program could be “trashed” if the right questions are asked, in the right phrase-ologly, in the right venue? Your guess is as good as mine on that, but Gwinnett government has tipped its hand in that it really WANTS to keep trash revenue to itself by any and ALL means necessary.

THAT means they have to be collecting more in funds than they spend, so it’s NOT the zero sum game residents should expect. And if the program ISN’T a zero sum game, WE the residents are SCREWED each time they pass out rate reductions to some by INCREASING costs paid by others. They have the power to tell the little guys (ie. us chickens) to “pound sand” and have shown time and again since about 2006 they aren’t afraid to USE it.

This is one case where I hope they collectively get to be the “poundee” instead of the “poundor”

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Don 1 year, 5 months ago

there is no doubt that the county wants to keep this trash plan. Currently there are 180,000 residences that pay $1.30 per month service fee for the county to handle the "billing" for us. Do the math that comes to a whopping$2,808,000 per year in the counties bank account. I can tell that that the so called "call center" is not costing anything close to this. What six people plus a supervisor and some phone equipment should only cost about $300,000 per year at the maximum. So can SOMEONE PLEASE EXPLAIN WHAT IS HAPPENING WITH THE $2.5 MILLION LEFT OVER!

Why did the county want to enter the trash business? It was not to stop illegal dumping but for financial gains!

I still am adamant that the county does not use one provider for all of their trash service, each branch still has a right to choose whoever they want to use but not us homeowners who support the government through taxes.

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Mack711 1 year, 5 months ago

Illegal dumping is continuing to this day, you will not be able to stop it. just look on some of the back roads of the county. With us paying in advance the county stands to gain funds from interest as pointed out in Don's comments. Now with the trash fee tied to property taxes and you do not pay the trash fee can they take your property? Probably so. The ones who have vacant houses still must pay. This amounts to the county being a thief and taking your funds and not delivering services. If the county wants all to have trash service then mandate that and let the homeowner find his own trash service as we are required to with car insurance. Some one is making money off this deal, we need to find out to who and where these funds go. Some have business and do not participate in this program since the business has trash service. The argument of having only one trash hauler in the area does not hold water. With the business able to select their own hauler the same amount of trucks are still on the road. These trucks that haul trash today only come once a week. School buses, delivery trucks come every day and there are three different schools. they do more damage to the streets than trash trucks. Let the free market take care of this issue and get the county out of the trash hauling business.

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Say_that_again 1 year, 5 months ago

Let me explain basic physics. Damage to the roads by a vehicle is significantly increased as the vehicles weight is increased. Major roads are designed to carry more weight than subdivision roads so the heavier trucks, like loaded garbage trucks, do significantly more damage than the comparative light school bus or regular delivery trucks like UPS or FedX. Heavier trucks, such as moving vans or construction material deliveries are not a daily occurrence. The major damage done by these larger vehicles is when the are stopping and garbage trucks, by stopping at every single house, would do considerable more damage than these occasional heavy delivery trucks. Personally, I do not like to see the streets cluttered with garbage cans 5 days a week nor hear the noisy garbage trucks, much louder than regular delivery trucks. The big problem is lack of negotiation with the garbage companies. We need negotiators that are willing to pressure companies to meet fee levels of adjacent counties, even if this means we have fewer service companies.

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BufordGuy 1 year, 5 months ago

Weak, very weak, argument for abdicating your rights to the government.

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dentaldawg83 1 year, 5 months ago

really?..that's your argument?..

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R 1 year, 5 months ago

We NEED to fix the road development standards if they are unable to carry roiutine traffic as claimed...

That DOESN'T happen by overcharging for trash collection.

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Sandykin 1 year, 5 months ago

The big problem is not just the lack of negotiation, the big problem is lack of recourse when you don't get the service you need from the trash company. I had 3 old style computer monitors out on the curb. The trash hauler did not take them. Instead they left a nasty gram about all trash needing to fit in the provided receptacle. You have to call them in advance for them to pick up anything that won't fit and they'll only pick up 1 additional item per collection. Three monitors at the curb take 3 weeks to go away.

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Aspec 1 year, 5 months ago

Say That Again -- so what you are telling us is the following: 1 - Your voting for Obama 2 - You believe the government should have complete control of a persons financial interest, and if they don't already just enact a law/bill so they gain access. 3 - You like it when government tells us what to do and how to do it -- and tells us how they will spend OUR money for us.

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Pompano 1 year, 5 months ago

I find it interesting that the two organizations looking to muscle their way into the Waste Management Industry are the mafia & Gwinnett County Government.

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kevin 1 year, 5 months ago

There is nothing wrong with this plan except having to pay for it upfront for 12 months. They are doing a great job. Many large cities have one hauler. What's the big deal as long as it is cheaper than before?

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JohninSuwanee 1 year, 5 months ago

The county claimed that this service would not (on average) cost more than residents were paying before. I'm not sure what others were paying, but not only is the calculated monthly charge higher for my basic service, but when you factor in how Advanced Disposal charges for lawn waste (grass clippings, leaves, etc.), it comes out significantly higher in my case. Also, the level of service is significantly less than with the service I was getting before. Another poster mentioned the issue of trash outside the bin. I've had the same issue. My previous trash service would pick up anything left at the curb. Advanced will only take what's inside the bin and will drive off leaving everything else behind. I'm not at all happy with the new plan. I'd like my old service back!

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