ATLANTA -- The attorney for a Snellville man battling Gwinnett County's controversial trash plan felt good about Monday's oral arguments in front of the Georgia Supreme Court.
In September, 30-year Snellville resident Bob Mesteller and attorney Chris McClurg filed an appeal to the state's highest court, refuting a Gwinnett court's summary judgement that the county's 2010 solid waste collection plan -- a divisive one among many residents -- was legal and constitutional.
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 and Frank Jenkins, a Cartersville attorney representing the county, made their arguments in front of the Supreme Court Monday afternoon.
"I felt fantastic about it," McClurg said afterward. "The only concern or hesitation I have is ... this is a 10-year contract with five companies and affects 180,000 people in the county. For the Georgia Supreme Court to overturn the lower court, it's going to really take them doing the right thing."
McClurg's presentation Monday mirrored that in several briefs previously filed in the case: He argued that the county had no right enact the contract to begin with, and the fact that the county has placed the fee on tax bills and can then put liens on property if the full charge is not paid.
Justice David Nahmias seemed to question if it was the court's place to have an opinion on the matter when McClurg brought up the public's reaction to the trash plan.
"And the people they elect could change it any day, right?" Nahmias asked. "If in fact that were the majority view of the citizens, then they could change the law or ordinance at any point, right?"
McClurg answered that, as of Jan. 1, no commissioner who passed the trash plan will remain on the board.
"Then the system will be working very well," Nahmias countered.
Jenkins made his argument as well, opting to use just 11 of the 20 minutes granted to each side. He refuted characterizations of the trash fee as a tax, saying "it is just the way we set it up."
"As this court says so often," Jenkins said, "you may not particularly like the wisdom of some legislative scheme, but it's up to a local government to determine its most effective and efficient way of providing services," he said.
The Supreme Court's opinion will be made an published at a later date. Justice Robert Benham was under the weather and not present Monday, but will have video and transcripts and participate fully in the decision, Chief Justice Carol Hunstein said.
Mesteller, the Snellville resident who challenged the law, said he wasn't sure how proceedings went Monday, but that he was "fed up" with Gwinnett County.
"They're stinking up the county and they need to get out of the trash business," he said.