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Supreme Court sides with county on trash plan

ATLANTA -- The state's highest court has ruled against a Snellville man challenging the county's controversial trash plan.

The Georgia Supreme Court issued its ruling Monday on the appeal brought by 30-year Snellville resident Bob Mesteller, ruling against him and siding with a Gwinnett judge's summary judgement that the county's 2010 solid waste collection plan -- including the collection of fees via property tax bills -- was legal and constitutional.

In a unanimous opinion, Justice P. Harris Hines wrote that "it cannot be said that the County's method of providing solid waste collection services, and paying for those services, is unreasonable, arbitrary, or capricious."

Under the trash agreement, Gwinnett County is divided into several different residential zones, each of which is assigned a different garbage collector. The waste haulers provide monthly bills to the county, which pays them based on the number of residential units they served that month.

For the services, county residents are charged one year of upfront fees on their ad valorem tax bills.

Mesteller's appeal argued that the county government had no right to sign the contract to begin with; that the county illegally loaned its credit to private companies; and that placing the fees on tax bills represented an illegal tax.

The Supreme Court shot down all three arguments in Monday's brief. Attorney Chris McClurg, who represented Mesteller, called it a "terrible day for Gwinnett County residents," but said he wasn't overly surprised.

"I guess the moral of the story is if you're going to do something unlawful, make sure you do it as big and grand as possible, so it's too painful to unwind," McClurg told the Daily Post, referencing the years-long process and expense it took for the county to enact the plan.

"My gut reaction is that for the Supreme Court to undo what the county had done ... would've cost millions of dollars and would've spawned more lawsuits," he added.

A Georgia State House bill sponsored by Rep. Brett Harrell (R-Snellville) recently attempted to legislate "nontax related fees and assessments" off of property tax bills. The effort was tabled earlier this month.

Comments

Frenchy 1 year ago

Better than before . Three different contractors on the same route : three time pollution , cost of operating equipement , wage of employees .

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NorcrossDot 1 year ago

Speak for yourself. I am paying almost double what I paid when I could change suppliers when they did not perform. I am still looking for ways to get rid of the government workers when they do not perform which is most of the time.

Also my freedom of choice is more important to me than having fewer cars/trucks on the road. Not that Gwinnett County are all that great.

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BufordGuy 1 year ago

They may have sided with the county. They may say it's legal. Doesn't mean it's right and doesn't mean they can make the county keep it. It will run out in time and if politicians have any sense they will see what support of it will do to their careers. It ended Mike Beaudreau's career and it will end others.

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kevin 1 year ago

let's hope you are right. I NEVER re-elect a politician anymore.

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NorcrossDot 1 year ago

I'm there with Kevin - in fact been practicing that concept for many years.

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Say_that_again 1 year ago

Do you vote for the Democrat or just don't vote?

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alismom13 1 year ago

Sad but true. If you are not happy with what your representative is or isn't doing that's your alternative. You might as well not vote though, because Democrats don't get elected here

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R 1 year ago

Been here long? This state was run completely by democrats for about 135 years until relatively recently...

And if you check, half the republicans were democrats less than ten years ago...

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Say_that_again 1 year ago

Correction - the state was run by Dixiecrats, almost all of the Dixiecrats switched to the Republican party.

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pcjohn 1 year ago

And do you remember the reasons why they switched to the Republicans? Could it have been something to do with the racial policies of Kennedy and Johnson?

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Say_that_again 1 year ago

Of course. Nixon was only able to get elected by using the "Southern Strategy", catering to the racist population of the southern states and welcoming aboard the former Dixiecrats.

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pcjohn 1 year ago

Well, someone remembers their history! Well done. And they became like the bleating sheep in the stockyard following their Judas into the slaughterhouse.

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kevin 1 year ago

This is not an issue over a elephant or a donkey. It is about making government get out of our lives.

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pcjohn 1 year ago

And unless you stir things up by voting against the incumbent now and then, it'll just continue. Neither Party has much to say for itself when it comes to ethics or following the will of the people. Politicians are like Stepford Wives....they're all equally interchangeable.

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thrugwinnett 1 year ago

Buford Guy, I mean TOMMY HUNTER, there are at least a few of us out here in the hinterlands that are paying attention. You post all about the garbage deal, which on balance, is more good than bad, but certainly not all good. But, Boudreaux, for all his faults that you maligned him with in your scorch the earth campaign last summer. at least voted to hold the line or lower taxes every year. You sir, in your 1st vote, vote for a budget that will by NECESSITY, raise taxes at least 8% this year. Yet you campaigned on a platform, straight from your website, " the county government should be run like a household budget, you do more with less." How do you answer this Buford Guy, I mean TOMMY HUNTER? As for Boudreaux, I don't he is finished at all. An election where someone loses by 50something votes in a gerrymandered by Don Balfour district, where 5% of the folks vote is by no means the end per se'

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kevin 1 year ago

If he voted not to increase taxes, it was only because he knew the tax increase was sure to pass and he wanted to keep his votes. This is the same tactic used in Congress. He was FOR the privatizing of the airport if you all remember, despite the folks telling him not to.

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R 1 year ago

I respectfully request that you send your scales out for calibration...

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R 1 year ago

Gee another party that seems to be confused about the difference between fees and taxes…

Fees are paid for services that you select to use or not. Taxes are a forced collection item - you have NO choice. Poof it’s really a spanking new tax!! One we didn’t have before!

The trash plan in Gwinnett is this county’s very own ACA, if you love the ACA - you LOVE this trash plan.

However, if you see substantially higher cost - all paid up front, reduced choice or flat out no completion, and the ability for elected leaders to INCREASE costs on one set of the public (completely unrelated in any way to services provided) to hand out fee breaks to another subset of public during election years. Go for it.

If you can overlook the public promises made loud and clear and presented all the way back to Loraine Greene and HER class of commissioners, and NOT provided in reality because of sanctioned legal maneuvers by Gwinnett County to the contrary because - "competitive bidding wasn’t necessary for essential services" – a legal position that existed prior to the political promises of the BOC. Again Go for it.

If you truly believe that it’s more important to prevent the possibly of personal lawsuits* against the former commissioners, their heirs and estates than serving the citizens who were locked into consent decree for ten years - Go for it.

  • Elected officials have immunity from lawsuits arising out of the NORMAL course of county business. Why such a special focus on this decree? It’s the FIRST thing covered not an add-on addendum as one would expect…

If you think Gwinnett County government should have another 30+ Million dollar loan of YOUR assets every year to do whatever with for at least 6 months… Go for it…

Because, deep down, you must somehow feel you’re not paying your fair share.

Trash firm legal consul comment to Judge Michael Clarke in his courtroom - Vote!

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Mack711 1 year ago

"My gut reaction is that for the Supreme Court to undo what the county had done ... would've cost millions of dollars and would've spawned more lawsuits," he added

This is the real reason for this ruling. We are stuck with this social plan until it comes up for renewal in a few years. If you do not want this plan then vote in some one who says that they will stop this plan and vote the ones who want it out. There are pros and cons to this plan, but most want to use the free enterprise and freedom of choice to do business with whom we wish. Most want less government in our lives there by reducing our tax burden. All that had to be done was to say you must have trash service, get your own just like car insurance. We will see how government operates when Obama care goes into full affect. Same principal but on a smaller scale.

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kevin 1 year ago

The court system doesn't use law anymore. They do what is politically correct to do. This is why our country is in the shape it is in. The people fell asleep a long time ago and went about their happy lives like little rich-folk, ignoring politics until it bit them in the rear.

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BuzzG 1 year ago

All I know is that I have lived in my house for 23 years. In that time I have not had a lick of a problem with my garbage collection. Suddenly they are missing my house. The garbage company now knows that they do not need to keep me happy, they need to keep the politician happy. There is a big difference.

What do you bet these trash haulers give the BOC big contributions when they run for election. This is all about dis-empowering the citizen and empowering the politician.

"When the people fear the government, it is tyranny. When the government fears the people, it is democracy." Anonymous

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LilburnsFuture 1 year ago

I am both pleased yet sad about the plan. First and foremost, the one neighbor who refused trash service and put trash in other people's bins without compensation is no longer having a free ride. Numerous complaints from neighbors were going absolutely no where. Now that this neighbor is paying for trash service, the neighbor is actually using it! What I do not like is collecting the funds up to a year in advance.

I have read KennethStepp's and find it a good stepping stone to improving the existing plan. Keep in mind that while the court sided with the county it does not mean we cannot elect officials to make adjustments. For example, providing a rolling bid process to serve the county or even allowing for 3-4 companies to be part of a pool of providers. In this idea, one could select any company but the pool of money would be collected from the county based on number of customers.

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sewitup 1 year ago

any garbage plan needs to include an optional bag system like several of the cities use. Our household uses less than one box of bags a year - thus it costs us about $25/yr for garbage service. This option is particularly helpful and less expensive for senior citizens, adults w/ 1-2 in households, or those of us who recycle and/or compost everything and do not generate a great deal of trash. Those of us in these categories do not generate enough trash to fill a huge container but shouldn't be penalized for it!

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Say_that_again 1 year ago

Would improve recycling efforts! But is it fair to give owners of compactors a huge price cut?

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Why_not 1 year ago

It costs just as much to drive a trash truck by a house that only has one bag as it does to drive by a house with a full bin.

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Karl 1 year ago

Stop making perfect sense to those folks who just want to b!tch without facts on their side.

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pcjohn 1 year ago

But the cost of loading, unloading and processing refuse depends on the amount of refuse each home generates.

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R 1 year ago

Hey but what about all the road damage due to these heavily loaded trucks? Wasn't the inability of the secondary roads in Gwinnett to stand up to the traffic- one of the reasons we just had to have "it"?

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R 1 year ago

I don't know, maybe if pricing on our tax bills was really tied to the cost charges of physical service we could all find out...

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pcjohn 1 year ago

sewitup has presented a great idea. Many people live alone and generate little to no garbage each week. I'm one of them. Each week there is only one small bag (a bag that you get from the supermarket) in that huge dumpster I have to use. I generate no wet garbage since I garden and use all vegetable refuse as mulch. The idea of having prepaid bags for garbage collection is a fairer way to assess collection fees. Some of my neighbors have 3 or more kids and their garbage load is ten times mine yet they pay the same price I do. Seems to me that we should pay for service according to how much of that service we use.

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Mack711 1 year ago

In our neighborhood there are 3 senior citizens homes who used on trash service and split the cost of the service. The service they had was cheaper than what we have now. They did not even fill one container. Under the current plan they pay for the entire container empty or full. One of these familes can not fill the container in a month. Prepaid bags is the way to go. You pay for what you throw away. Fair and simple.

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LilburnsFuture 1 year ago

Couldn't you essentially do the same by having 3 or more seniors in the same house and increase the garbage all while paying the same price? Because you could easily flip that arguement when it comes to healthcare. That same family is healthy they only go to the doctor for bumps and scratches and do not require nearly the same amount of medication. Shouldn't they only pay for services by how much they use or should their premiums go up to cover everyone? In other words, careful what you wish for.

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Mack711 1 year ago

The seniors are not in the same house, they are 3 seperate houses. They all total do not generate enough to fill one can. They saved money by combining the 3 houses into one can but under the current plan they must pay for one can that is not totally full in a month. by the way one has moved out of Gwinnett and one more has his house for sale. Not saying this is the reason but has something to do with it. They say that taxes here in Gwinnett are higher than other places.

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kevin 1 year ago

Blame your county's BOC for all this. It's government too big to fail all over. Quit electing people over an over. Your government won't fall part by having someone new take over for a while. When was the last time Nash and her bunch published the transparent news about how much they get in rebates from OUR recycling and where that rebate is being spent? Many trash haulers are around that pay a check directly to the homeowner, based on pounds recycled. This BOC is about as transparent as the Obama administration.

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Karl 1 year ago

From kevin: "Many trash haulers are around that pay a check directly to the homeowner, based on pounds recycled."

NAME ONE.

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Say_that_again 1 year ago

Do you really expect facts from Kevin!

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R 1 year ago

Well it aint a check direct to you, but since no one in Gwinnett knows where OUR recycling revenue goes - how about this example below? And these were folks kicked out of Gwinnett because there was no competitive bidding process actually performed as promised

http://www.sanitation-services.com/recycle.php

Recycle for the cure! 100% of our recycling proceeds are donated to the American Cancer Society to support its Patient Resource Navigation Programs in North Georgia.

Patient Resource Navigators assist people suffering from all kinds of cancer, with breast cancer being theRecycle for the Cure most commonly diagnosed cancer among their patients in parts of North Georgia.

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Mack711 1 year ago

If you are going to blame the BOC then have a look at the BOC that approved this plan. Bannister: reisgned to avoid being jailed and charged with a crime. Kennerly who is being charged and will appear in court to answer charges. Lassiter who admitted taking a bribe and was sent to jail. and oh yes Mike B who may be under investigation for expense account charges.Those are the ones who stuck us with this plan along with Connie Wiggins. We need to know exactly how much Connie, often refered to as Connie's Commies, gets for the sale of the items that we recycle. You want transparenticy, start there. The sale of these recycle should be paid to the county in order to offset the cost of the service and reduce our payments to the county. We need to know all about the deals and payments that are being made and who gets the money.

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Why_not 1 year ago

Kevin, are you making this stuff up as you type? Seriously???

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jack 1 year ago

We need a progressive trash system instead of the flat, regressive system we now have.

Those fortunate to have a lot of trash should be asked to give a just a little bit more, dig a little deeper, than the unfortunate with less trash.

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R 1 year ago

Maybe we should get trash exchanges where we could shop and CHOOSE suppliers.

Oh good Grief! Hold the presses!

A Federal progressive program with more choices than that offered by a conservative local bunch.

And Beat-down goes on...

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