LAWRENCEVILLE -- When Mike Yohe was tasked with devising a budget for his church, he never thought it would be the line item for garbage that gave him the most heartburn.
But Yohe was so disturbed by his interactions with Advanced Disposal he took his complaints to commissioners this week.
The worries came when Yohe realized that the bill had risen four times in a year for the church -- 190-year-old Fairview Presbyterian in Lawrenceville.
After calling around to other garbage haulers, he learned that the more than $130 monthly base rate was twice as high as the nearest competitor. So he canceled the contract and agreed to use another hauler at a rate of $62 a month.
A spokeswoman for Advanced Disposal said the company cannot treat a church any differently than any other customer.
"Advanced Disposal provides solid waste and recycling services to a multiple of customers who agree to the terms and conditions of our contracts," Katrine Strickland said. "These contracts are similar to our competitors in the marketplace, and all service providers within Gwinnett County were required to implement the new county mandated franchise fee at the beginning of the year.
"Advanced Disposal's sales department tried to reach a mutually agreeable solution with the customer with no success to date," she said about the specific situation. "Our company does not and cannot discriminate between for profit and non-profit customers."
But Yohe is calling Advanced Disposal's business practices into question, when the garbage company threatened to sue the church for breaking its contract. He said the person who signed the document never had authority to sign, and he can't believe a company would charge a nonprofit so much more than is needed to perform the service.
"You limit the amount of help we can give. That hurts people," Yohe said of nearly $1,000 in increased feeds that could be spent on the food cooperative ministry or homeless program.
While churches and other commercial entities can still fire a trash hauler they are unhappy with, Yohe said he is upset that he cannot fire Advanced from collecting the trash at his residence, since commissioners entered into a court settlement giving the company business to collect garbage from one of five local zones.
"I am concerned about everybody," he said. "What does that say about service?"