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.