Charles City, Waste Management agree to $1.5 million settlement
After 15 months of legalities, motions, and mediation as part of a civil lawsuit between Charles City County and Waste Management, both parties have agreed to a $1.5 million settlement.
Charles City Board of Supervisors chairman Gilbert Smith announced the settlement during the board’s Jan. 27 regular monthly meeting.
“I’m pleased to announce that we have reached an agreement with Waste Management,” said Smith. “We will receive $1.5 million, with the agreement to span over the next five and a half years.”
According to District 2 representative Bill Coada, the $1.5 million will be paid upfront for the settlement, with the current contract of 1,900 tons per day to remain in place. After that five and a half year period, both sides may renegotiate terms of the contract.
“I’m delighted with the work that our county attorney Randy Boyd did,” chimed in District 2 representative Bill Coada.
The path to a mutual agreement, however, didn’t come without bumps along the way. In October 2013, Boyd filed a civil suit on behalf of the county, listing claims that indicated Waste Management was avoiding to pay a host fee to dispose of trash at the Roxbury landfill. Accusations arose, claiming that waste was being redirected to Amelia County because of a lower host fee.
Waste Management denied the claims, opting to fight the suit and move forward to a jury trial. A motion was granted last June to transfer the case to New Kent, a request made by Waste Management claiming a jury from Charles City would be biased based on prejudicial pretrial publicity.
In the meantime, revenue funds dwindled for the county, resulting in $900,000 in cuts. Of that amount, $436,000 was designated to be removed from local funding for the county’s school system.
Public opinion and furor escalated during a March 2013 town hall meeting that filled the Charles City Government Administration building’s auditorium to capacity. Approximately 36 people spoke, questioning the shortfall and why the school system was targeted. Supervisors rebutted, saying funds from the school system, social services, and county services were removed to balance the budget.
County projects went into an immediate freeze, while schools ended up returning $323,436. Funds removed from the schools continue to haunt them in FY2015-16 year, with substitute teachers and spots for Appomattox Regional and Maggie Walker Governor’s schools vacant. Other casualties included loss of a school nurse and loss of morale that forced many teachers to relocate to other positions in a variety of localities.
With the settlement complete, county administrator Zach Trogdon is hopeful the healing process will begin for both the schools and the county.
“We’re happy about this settlement,” the county administrator commented. “We believe that the result is fair to all parties involved.”