Coffee County moves forward with Brundidge landfill plans

Published 9:38 am Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Despite opposition from Brundidge’s attorney and a Pike County business owner, the Coffee County Commission voted 5-1 Tuesday to spend up to $6 million to purchase the Brundidge landfill.

Attorney Jim Noles said he wasn’t at Tuesday’s public meeting to engage in “bid chilling,” but he did offer up a couple of questions to the commission.

“Why are my clients having to read about this in the newspaper?” Noles asked. “Why wouldn’t Coffee County discuss this with Mayor Jimmy Ramage or City Manager Brit Thomas?”

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He also questioned the commission as to if they knew the host-government agreement with Brundidge gives the city the right to approve or disapprove any sale, and if the commission knew about Alabama Statute 11-3A-2(e) which wouldn’t allow Coffee County to provide services in another municipality or county except under contract.

Pike County business owner Scott Gardner also spoke in hopes of changing the commission’s plans.

Gardner noted that he felt the purchase of the landfill by Coffee County would hurt residents of Pike County and could potentially be more expensive for Coffee County than the commission realized.

Gardner explained that the City of Brundidge treats the leachate (liquid that drains from the waste management site) from the Brundidge landfill.

“If things go sour, the City of Brundidge has the ability to cut off that pipeline,” Gardner said.

Coffee County tried to purchase the Brundidge landfill earlier for $4 million, but trustee TransLoad America filed for bankruptcy on June 20 before the deal was set.

The landfill in question can handle 7,500 tons of waste each day and is a 729-acre facility.

Coffee County District 5 commission candidate Eugene Yager said there is no reason for the county to go into debt when the Coffee County landfill still has 40 years worth of capacity left.

“Why would we want to go into debt? I don’t think we have a revenue problem,” Yager said. “I think the county has a spending problem. I don’t think we, in Coffee County, should be going after private business.”

One man who wasn’t a Coffee or Pike county resident also spoke against the purchase of the landfill.

Jim Martin said the Brundidge landfill isn’t a financially sound decision for Coffee County.

“If this landfill in Brundidge is so good, why do they need Coffee County to buy it? It’s been like a yo-yo,” Martin said. “It opens. It closes. It opens. It closes. I am against government getting involved in private enterprise.”

With the approval to move forward at Wednesday’s meeting, the county will begin to negotiate with financial institutions to secure funding for an offer to be made on the Brundidge landfill. However, there is no date set for an offer since the proceedings will involve bankruptcy court.

On Tuesday, County Administrator Rod Morgan told The Messenger the capacity that would be provided by the Brundidge landfill would help Coffee County appear more attractive in terms of economic development.