Landfill issue unsettled

Published 2:10 pm Wednesday, August 13, 2008

WINDSOR – The impasse remains.

After an exchange of letters between Bertie County Attorney Lloyd Smith and Steven D. Weber who represents Republic Services of North Carolina, the Bertie County Commissioners and Republic are still at odds on two key points.

Republic, who manages the regional landfill located in Bertie County, informed the commissioners in April they intended to begin charging county citizens $2.75 per ton for household waste. That came after the North Carolina General Assembly passed legislation that will charge landfill owners an additional $2 per ton.

While Republic has insisted the cost must be passed on to those using the landfill, Bertie County has countered that the legislation simply allowed it to be passed on to the users. They further have insisted that the contract between Bertie County and Republic did not allow Bertie County’s citizens to be charged for landfill use.

Smith’s original letter to Weber quoted the contract which said, in part, “(in) consideration thereof, East Carolina (Republic’s predecessor) desires to provide Bertie County with an indefinite moratorium on the tipping fees provided in Section 8 below, thereby providing the citizens of Bertie County with free disposal of all residential waste generated within the county.”

Smith’s letter further demanded arbitration if Republic did not relent on their plans to charge the Bertie County citizens.

At their regular meeting in June, Smith asked the Bertie County Commissioners if they wished him to continue.

“You’ve marched me up to the line,” he said. “I need to know whether you want me to shoot or fall back.”

In chorus, the board answered, “Shoot.”

He went on to tell the board that arbitration seemed to be the only solution. He said he did not believe Republic had any chance of charging the additional $2 per ton to citizens, but that he was certain they could not charge the 75 cents they wanted for increased cost in operating the landfill.

“If there is anything in that contract that allows them to charge that 75 cents, I’ll eat in front of you,” Smith said.

Weber responded on behalf of Republic in a letter dated July 1. In that letter, Republic agreed to some of the terms demanded by Bertie County including the removal of the 75 cents per ton that Smith had told board members he knew couldn’t be charged.

Republic also agreed to reimburse the county for mixed trash that had been disposed of in the landfill in the amount of $2,260.44.

The company also agreed to compromise on construction and demolition (C&D) waste.

“Republic will agree that C&D waste generated by private Bertie County residents on their own Bertie County residences from non-storm related C&D activity is not subject to the $32 gate rate at ECE that will be charged on all other county C&D waste, including C&D waste generated from storm and natural disaster-related events, from contractor work on new and existing residences, and from all non-residential construction and demolition work,” Weber wrote.

The letter then stated that Bertie County would have to pay the $2 per ton solid waste disposal fee for county waste.

Bertie County officials, however, were not satisfied with the proposal.

Smith, in a letter dated July 29, responded to the letter, saying the county would accept the proposal to drop the 75 cents per ton and the reimbursement for the mixed trash.

“The other two points in your letter are not acceptable,” Smith said. “The definition of C&D waste, as we interpret it, could still lead to residents of the county having to pay for home demolition waste, whatever the cause.

“The county will not agree to accept any portion of the new $2 per ton solid waste disposal tax,” he added. “If your client still wishes to impose either the .75 per ton surcharge or pass the $2 per ton tax to Bertie County, we stand by our demand for arbitration.”

Smith then offered to contact the American Arbitration Association or allow Republic to set up the arbitration.