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County, company settle dispute
Government to recoup millions in fees
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Forsyth County News

 

Forsyth County expects to receive $2.9 million over several years as part of a settlement with Advanced Disposal.

The county and the company, which owns Eagle Point Landfill in northwestern Forsyth, had disagreed over the issue of host fees for more than a year.

The fees are paid to the host municipality, in this case Forsyth County, by disposal facilities.

Georgia law states that the fees are used to "offset the impact of the facility, public eduction efforts for solid waste management, the cost of solid waste management and the administration of the local or regional solid waste plan."

County Attorney Ken Jarrard said the county and Eagle Point had disagreed over "the amount of host fees to be paid and for what categories of waste they need to be paid for."

Eagle Point is the lone landfill in Forsyth that accepts municipal solid waste, typically household garbage, for which it has been paying the $1 per ton host fee for years.

The landfill has not been paying host fees on construction and demolition or special waste, which are typically commercial waste products.

Per the agreement, Advanced Disposal will now pay $1 per ton for all waste types, retroactively beginning with Jan. 1 of this year.

Starting in 2013, an extra 25 cents per ton will be charged to household waste until the county collects an additional $2.5 million.

Jarrard said the total amount is expected to recoup the fees not collected on construction and demolition and special waste since about 2005.

At that time, Jarrard said it became "crystal clear" under state law that the landfill should have been paying $1 per ton host fees on those types of waste.

The county "did the math backwards" to come up with the figure to compensate for those past-owed host fees, he said.

It will also receive $400,000 up front from Advanced Disposal within five days of the agreement's final ratification, which Jarrard said is likely in three weeks.

"I think it's a reasonable compromise with parties just trying to work together," he said.

The dispute began about a year ago, Jarrard said, when a commissioner asked him to look into whether the landfill was paying proper host fees.

From the county's standpoint, Eagle Point should have been paying the $1 per ton host fee on all waste types to comply with state law.

Officials with Advanced, he said, felt as if they had been paying what was required, taking into account an exemption the county had authorized several years earlier.

With the settlement, the parties have agreed the landfill is exempt from the county's solid waste ordinance, which would have required the company to pay $3.50 per ton for host fees on household waste.

In the agreement, Jarrard said the county "retains its full discretion to adopt another ordinance ... that might speak to the issue of landfills."

In 2010, the county collected host fees from two sites, Eagle Point and Greenleaf Recycling, a construction and demolition landfill.

Once the final totals are in, the county expects to have received between $900,000 and $1 million in host fees for 2010, said spokeswoman Jodi Gardner.

She said the money will go into the solid waste fund, which is "used to operate the county’s three convenience centers [and] fulfill requirements of the 10-year solid waste management plan."

The fund also pays for "public education and outreach pertaining to solid waste and costs associated with the closed landfill owned by Forsyth County on Old Federal Road," Gardner said.