Morgan: Ruling should bring end to landfill litigation

Published 3:00 am Saturday, September 24, 2016


Coffee County Administrator Rod Morgan said the commission is gratified by a recent Alabama Supreme Court ruling and hopeful it will bring an end to litigation over the Brundidge landfill.

“It is unfortunate that this issue was taken to these lengths,” Morgan said.

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The court last week denied the City of Brundidge’s request for an appeal hearing. The city has been embroiled in legal battles for nearly four years in its efforts to prevent Brundidge Acquisitions and the Coffee County Commission from operating a Subtitle D landfill within the city limits of Brundidge.

The struggle for control of the Brundidge Landfill began on October 17, 2012, when the Coffee County Commission passed a resolution authorizing a $6 million expenditure to acquire the landfill located in Brundidge.

The landfill at the time was owned and operated by Transload America and was in bankruptcy proceedings.

In response, the City of Brundidge and the City of Brundidge Solid Waste Disposal Authority filed a complaint for a legal determination and legal remedy with the Circuit Court of Pike County on Oct. 30, 2012. City officials said provisions of state law forbid a county from acquiring property within the boundaries of a municipality and would, therefore, forbid what the Coffee County Commission planned to do.

“Coffee County sought from the beginning to partner with Brundidge and made two written offers for the purchase of the landfill prior to the previous owner’s bankruptcy,” Morgan said.

Morgan said the two offers were made to a broker hired by TransLoad America’s creditors.

“As part of the offer, we had to submit any requested changes to the contract that was then in place between TransLoad and the Brundidge Solid Waste Disposal Authority,” Morgan said. “Brundidge had to accept or reject the proposed changes.”

Morgan said Brundidge rejected the first set of changes that increased the minimum guaranteed monthly royalty to the city from $4,500 a month ($54,000 a year) to $10,000 a month ($120,000 a year) and decreased the hours.

“We thought the city would responded to the financial incentive and that would, at least, spark negotiation so that we could move ahead,” he said. “But the city was not agreeable to the decrease in hours of operation.”

Morgan said a second proposal was made that maintained the same hours and fee schedule.

“It was my understanding that the city initially accepted the second proposal,” Morgan said. “However this offer was ultimately rejected as well.”

Morgan said both offers were submitted to the broker and the proposed changes were given to the City of Brundidge for its consideration.

“The city was aware of both offers as they had to make a decision on them,” Morgan said. “The creditors accepted the price with both offers. The reason neither deal closed was Brundidge’s refusal to accept the proposed modifications to the contract. The city declined both offers.”

Morgan said the Coffee County Commission also submitted an offer to the City of Brundidge through its attorneys during the litigation.

“This offer was submitted from our attorneys to theirs because that is the way such offers are generally handled in litigation,” Morgan said. “However, the city was certainly aware of the offer and indicated that the city was not interested in discussing a settlement.”

Morgan said the lengthy and costly litigation could have been avoided with the acceptance of the offers made by Coffee County.

“Hopefully, this decision by the Alabama Supreme Court will provide a basis for the city and county to establish a structure for the landfill’s operation that will benefit us all,” he said.