A possible settlement with Waste Management (WM) designed to save the city money on the disposal of yard waste was removed from the agenda before the Mobile City Council could vote on it Tuesday, July 24.
Mayor Sandy Stimpson’s administration asked for the item to be removed during a pre-conference meeting. The settlement has been in the hands of Wanda Cochran, the board’s attorney, for months. She has recommended an executive session to discuss the issue in the future due to possible litigation.
City Attorney Ricardo Woods said there is no timeline to re-introduce the settlement at this time.
The settlement, which would pay WM $389,000 per year, would put to bed issues raised during a breach of contract lawsuit the city’s Solid Waste Disposal Authority lost to the company back in 2016.
What later became an issue following that lawsuit was the city’s diversion of yard debris, or trash, from the city-owned and WM-managed Chastang Landfill to a private facility called Dirt Inc. WM attorneys successfully argued any diversion from the landfill it manages would be in breach of the original contract the Solid Waste Disposal Authority entered into in the early 1990s.
The settlement would pay WM for the diversion of trash, as well as pay lump sums for lost profits and reimbursements mentioned in the previous court filing.
Jaime Betbeze, an attorney for WM, said the company was ready to put the issue to rest.
“We’re hopeful that we’re getting close to a resolution,” he said. “It’s in the citizens’ best interest to get a resolution.”
About the withdrawal, Betbeze said it’s his understanding it would lead to a resolution.
The item in question first appeared on a City Council agenda in early February. A vote on the settlement was delayed a month to allow Cohran to review it. It has been delayed at least once since, back in April.
Betbeze said he understood the council attorney wanted to “get up to speed” on the issue.
During a press event related to his recent trip to the Farnborough International Airshow, Mayor Sandy Stimpson implored the council to act on the settlement once it comes back on their agenda.
“We need to bring a close to this situation,” he said. “We need the council’s support on that.”
Stimpson said not resolving the issue would result in increased costs to city and its residents.