A transfer station that was a central component for awarding the county’s solid waste contract to Waste Pro five years ago is also central to a lawsuit filed last month by the company.
Based on allegations made by Waste Pro attorneys in a 44-page complaint, the critical issue is who owned the transfer station, which has since the suit’s filing been demolished by Waste Pro?
According to the complaint, Waste Pro was required under the five-year contract it signed with the county in 2014 to build and operate the transfer station.
That provision became the source of considerable tension between county commissioners and the company, which did not complete the transfer station for more than a year after the contract was implemented.
The delay was largely driven by a lack of permitting.
Waste Pro was also to pave the entrance road.
The cost of that transfer station in the original agreement is $600,000, which in its complaint Waste Pro asserts was an estimate; the company contends it spent in excess of $1 million to build the station and scale house.
However, Waste Pro asserts that the county assumed control over the transfer station without paying the company for the station.
According to the agreement, the county was to pay “book” value for the transfer station should the county turn to another company for solid waste services.
The county did just that as of June 1, awarding the contract to BCC Waste Services this past December.
In its request for proposals, the county indicated to potential bidders that the county owned the transfer station and would lease it to the company awarded the bid.
The lawsuit also noted that a flow control ordinance recently approved by commissioners indicated the county owned a transfer station.
After the award of the contract to BCC, Waste Pro’s complaint detailed, a “dispute arose between the County and Waste Pro as to the amount the County was required to pay Waste Pro for the transfer station…”
The county indicated it would pay the $600,000 contained in the services agreement; Waste Pro countered it was a mere estimate.
Prior to the completion of Waste Pro’s contract, just days prior according to the complaint, the county indicated that unless Waste Pro agreed to a price below what the company argued was the cost to construct, the county would not purchase the transfer station.
Further, the county refused two alternatives Waste Pro said it proposed; to operate the transfer station during a transition period or lease it directly to BCC.
“The county endeavored to have its cake and eat it too,” the complaint continued, alleging the county allowed BCC to use the transfer station and charged BCC a lease fee, again without paying anything for the transfer station.
Waste Pro notified the county it would not accept a reduced price for the transfer station, did not authorize another company to use the transfer station under Waste Pro’s Florida Department of Environmental Protection permit and did not consent to the use of the transfer station.
Waste Pro locked the gate to the fence surrounding the transfer station at the end of the contract with the county.
The county authorized the lock be cut and took control of the transfer station, which sits on county land, according to Waste Pro’s complaint.
Waste Pro is seeking damages in excess of $15,000 and a trial in front of a jury, according to the complaint.
The company alleges breach of contract, specific performance in the county assuming control of the transfer station without paying Waste Pro for the station, unjust enrichment (the cost of the transfer station and lease fees from BCC) and breach of covenant of good faith and fair dealing.
County attorney Jeremy Novak told commissioners during a recent meeting that he would research all the prior complaints of the company being out of compliance to the contract as a reply to Waste Pro’s filing.
The transfer station has since been demolished by Waste Pro.
The county is earmarking $500,000 in state grant funds to construct a new transfer station in the next 80 days.
BCC is working around the issue until the station is completed, according to company owner Jason Tunnell.