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Montgomery County announces $2 million lawsuit

Montgomery County announces $2 million lawsuit

Counties at odds over garbage deal
Montgomery County announces $2 million lawsuit
Photographer: Shutterstock

Fulton and Montgomery counties are suing each other, each alleging breach of contract over a 10-year inter-municipal garbage disposal agreement that dates to 2014. 

On Thursday, Montgomery County Executive Matt Ossenfort issued a news release announcing that his county is filing a $2 million lawsuit against Fulton County, alleging a "bad faith breach of contract."

The news release calls the action a counter-suit in response to a lawsuit notice filed by Fulton County over the contract.

"It’s a shame that Fulton County was not willing to renegotiate the current contract, but rather abruptly end the relationship without any meaningful negotiation," Ossenfort said. “Montgomery County is asserting a counterclaim to recover costs incurred by Montgomery County from Fulton County’s anticipatory breach of contract." 

Fulton County withdrew Montgomery County's right to dispose of garbage at its landfill in June, claiming Montgomery County had been taking in waste from outside counties, charging those counties a $72.50-per-ton tipping fee, and then disposing of the garbage at Fulton County's landfill using the "special low municipal" tipping fee rates established by the inter-county contract. Those fees were $36.96 per ton in 2014 and 2015 and $37.95 per ton in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

Fulton County has alleged Montgomery County profited by "close to $2 million" during the four-year term of the agreement by taking in waste from outside Montgomery County. That practice used "over 50,000 tons of Fulton County Landfill capacity," Fulton County said in a release on June 18.  

Fulton County Administrator Jon Stead and Fulton County Attorney Jason Brott did not return phone calls seeking comment for this story. 

Ossenfort, in his news release, said that during the course of contract negotiations, it was discussed, understood and documented that if some waste from outside vendors was mixed in with Montgomery County waste, that would be acceptable.

Since 2014, when the agreement took effect, Montgomery County has disposed of 202,206 tons of garbage in Fulton County at a cost of $7.6 million. 

Montgomery County entered into the inter-municipal agreement with Fulton County after the dissolution of the  Montgomery-Otsego-Schoharie Solid Waste Authority. The original agreement was said to be a 10-year agreement with an option for a five-year renewal.

Garbage from Montgomery County increased each of the four years of the agreement, starting with 35,536 tons in 2014, then 48,049 in 2015, 46,695 in 2016 and 53,044 in 2017. From January to May of 2018, there were 18,880 tons of garbage hauled from Montgomery County to Fulton County. 

After Fulton County withdrew from the agreement, Montgomery County entered into a temporary deal with Seneca Meadows Landfill to take its garbage. Montgomery County contracts with GottaDo Contracting LLC to manage the transfer stations and haul waste to the landfill.

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