$32 million city-county settlement in jeopardy

Broward County is threatening to renege on a $32 million lawsuit settlement with cities.

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Though it’s been approved by the cities of Sunrise, Weston, Miramar, Hollywood and Fort Lauderdale, County Administrator Bertha Henry now says the county may reject the settlement.

The topic: trash.

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In Broward, the business of disposing of 1.8 million people’s garbage is a multi-million dollar undertaking. When the cities and county managed that dirty business together, under a regional Resource Recovery Board, they amassed land and assets. But the regional approach fell apart in July 2013, and the county kept all the assets.

Eighteen cities and towns sued, demanding the county divvy everything up. The proposed settlement allows the county to keep some properties and sell another, leaving the cities $32 million to split up according to how much garbage they contributed to the system.

All was well, and the county was headed toward an April approval of the settlement.

But in a recent letter, County Administrator Bertha Henry warned that the county’s approval could now depend on something else: an agreement between the county and garbage disposal company Wheelabrator Technologies.

And that agreement is being held up while Coconut Creek fights with Waste Management, Wheelabrator’s parent company until recently, over garbage dumping at Monarch Hill landfill.

Waste company seeks to close incinerator, transfer trash

Waste company seeks to close incinerator, transfer trash Brittany Wallman Neighbors of the “Mount Trashmore” landfill in northern Broward descended on County Hall Tuesday, worried about plans to close a trash-burning incinerator in the region. Neighbors of the “Mount Trashmore” landfill in northern Broward descended on County Hall Tuesday, worried about plans to close a trash-burning incinerator in the region. ( Brittany Wallman ) –>

“The county’s willingness to pay the RRB settlement amount may be influenced by whether the county can anticipate receiving funding and certain other commitments under an agreement with Wheelabrator,” Henry wrote on March 4 to representatives of Coconut Creek and Waste Management. ” … If your dispute is not resolved shortly, agreement between the county and Wheelabrator may be more difficult to achieve.”

Henry asked that Coconut Creek and Waste Management come to an agreement, or an impasse, by Friday, March 13.

Attorney Jamie Cole, who represents the cities suing Broward, said there is “no link” between the $32 million settlement and the issues the county has with Waste Management and Coconut Creek.

“We look forward to the County Commission considering and approving the settlement at its earliest possible meeting,” he told the Sun Sentinel in an email.

The cities suing Broward are Sunrise, Weston, Hollywood, Fort Lauderdale, Lauderhill, Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, Lighthouse Point, Tamarac, Plantation, Coconut Creek, Deerfield Beach, Miramar, Margate, Cooper City, North Lauderdale, Coral Springs and the towns of Davie and Southwest Ranches. In all, though, 26 of Broward’s 31 cities were parties to the Resource Recovery Board.

Chief Deputy County Attorney Andrew Meyers said the lawsuit settlement and the Wheelabrator agreement are scheduled for the County Commission’s April 7 meeting.

bwallman@tribune.com or 954-356-4541

Copyright © 2015, Sun Sentinel

Article source: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/local/broward/parkland/fl-cities-rrb-settlement-20150313-story.html?track=rss

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