Court rules in favor of Coffee County for landfill

Published 3:00 am Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Brundidge officials have lost the latest round of their court battle over ownership of the former city landfill.

The City of Brundidge and the Brundidge Solid Waste Authority received orders Monday from Circuit Judge Thomas E. Head, III Monday on the two requests for summary judgment by the City vs. Coffee County Commission and Brundidge Acquisitions, LLC.

“The court found in favor of the defendants on each,” said Britt Thomas, Brundidge city manager. “While we are disappointed, we respect the court’s decision and plan to move forward.”

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The legal battle concerns ownership of the Brundidge Landfill, which was owned and operated by TransLoad America until that company declared bankruptcy. In settling its debt, TransLoad sold the landfill tin June 2013 to Brundidge Acquisitions, an organization formed by the with the Coffee County commission.

Brundidge officials have contended that the Coffee County commissioners plan to shut down the Brundidge landfill and reroute solid waste disposal – and in turn revenues – to the Coffee County landfill.

Brundidge Mayor Jimmy Ramage said over the last 10 years the Brundidge Landfill had put an average of $200,000 in the City’s general fund.

“That’s a good portion of our sales tax and that’s money that our citizens didn’t have to pay, giving us money to spend on the needs of our community,” he said, adding that the closing of the landfill would be a great financial loss to Brundidge.

In its filings, the City of Brundidge contended that it is unlawful for one county government to come into another county and do business without a host government agreement. Brundidge had not granted a host government agreement to Coffee County and fought to keep another county from doing business in its back door.

In Head’s order, he stated that the City of Brundidge and the City of Brundidge Solid Waste Authority are not taxpayers of Coffee County and the “injuries” they claim are not fairly traceable to the actions of either Defendant.

“For the Plaintiffs (City of Brundidge) to have standing to contest an expenditure of Coffee County, they would have to be taxpayers or have some other responsibility for replenishing money expended by Coffee County,” Head wrote.

He further stated that the injuries the City claims are the result of the bankruptcy of the former owner of the Brundidge Landfill and the New Jersey Bankruptcy Court that presided over that bankruptcy.

Head’s order stated that Coffee County presented evidence that its actions serve a sufficient public purpose and that those actions were taken to promote economic and industrial development in Coffee County. The city did not present evidence that sufficiently rebutted the evidence presented by the defendants, Head wrote.

Having found that the city’s claims are due to be dismissed as a matter of law, Head said it was unnecessary to address its claim that Brundidge Acquisitions is the alter ego of Coffee County.

Thomas said Brundidge officials would meet with their attorneys to decide the next course of action.