Coffee County pushes to purchase Brundidge landfill

Published 11:00 pm Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The tug of war between two neighboring governments continues with the Brundidge Landfill as the rope.

According to an article in the Southeast Sun Tuesday, the members of the Coffee County Commission unanimously agreed at its June 24 meeting to authorize the issuance of a $4 million general obligation warrant through Regions Bank for the purpose of purchasing the Brundidge Landfill.

The City of Brundidge was not surprised by the action, said Brundidge Mayor Jimmy Ramage.

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“The Coffee County Commission made it clear in October that they intended to purchase the Brundidge landfill,” Ramage said. “The issue for Brundidge is why Alabama law is not being followed. The law, as we read it, states that one government entity cannot operate in another government’s jurisdiction without prior approval by resolution of the local governing body.”

The City of Brundidge has filed suit against Coffee County, contending that Alabama Code prohibits the acquisition of the Brundidge Landfill by Coffee County because the landfill is more than three miles from the Coffee County border.

The City of Brundidge also contends that the attempt to purchase the landfill violates the host government agreement approved by Brundidge when the landfill was first created.

Britt Thomas, Brundidge city manager, said that, even if the landfill were within three miles of the border, the Coffee County Solid Waste Disposal Authority would not be able to acquire the Brundidge Landfill without the expressed approval from both Pike County and the City of Brundidge.

“It also seems likely that the Coffee County Commission would be similarly barred from acquiring the Brundidge Landfill,” Thomas said. “Alabama law specifically prohibits the Coffee County Commission from taking actions that would affect the property and affairs of the City of Brundidge.”

Although litigation is still ongoing, Coffee County is moving forward with the purchase of the Brundidge Landfill.

Rod Morgan, Coffee County administrator, said Coffee County believes the action that is being taken is legal.

“We are not taking any action that violates the law,” Morgan said. “We would not be taking any action that would violate the law.”

Morgan said that solid waste disposal is crucial to economic development regionally.

“It is difficult to site a landfill without getting opposition to it,” he said. “Now, there is a moratorium on landfills. You can’t even apply for a new landfill.”

Therefore, Morgan said purchasing an existing landfill is good business for Coffee County.

The Brundidge Landfill is a 729-acre facility capable of handing 7,500 tons of solid waste a day and would greatly increase the Coffee County Solid Waste Disposal Authority’s operating capacity.

The Coffee County Landfill website gauges the life expectancy of the landfill at more than 100 years at the current flow of waste.

Even so, the commission has no plans to close the Brundidge Landfill, Morgan said.

“From the beginning, it has been our intent to operate the landfill in some capacity,” he said. “And we had envisioned a partnership with the City of Brundidge.”

Morgan said that a lot goes into the operation of a landfill and it would not be possible to say what the operating capacity of the Brundidge landfill would be.

“There are just too many unknowns right now,” he said.

Dean Smith, Coffee County Commissioner District 2, said that closing the Brundidge Landfill would not be something the commission would want to do.

“Closing a landfill costs a lot of money,” he said. “Right now, my vote would be to keep it open.”