Amid the ongoing waste wars in Santa Rosa County, a judge has ruled that Waste Pro is subject to public records requests regarding the deal it has with the county.
This stage of the long, tangled legal battle centers on public records requests made by Adams Sanitation, which is fighting to provide sanitation services to residents in the south end of the county.
Adams made a request in November 2021 to obtain a large collection of documents, including texts, internal and external communications and more from Waste Pro.
Waste Pro eventually sued Adams over the matter, but Judge Darlene Dickey ruled in favor of Adams.
“Where the government delegates its statutory functions to private companies, as here, Waste Pro acts on behalf of Santa Rosa County when operating as Santa Rosa’s solid waste collector,” Dickey’s order reads.
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What does judgment mean?
The most recent order states that the public may obtain records from a private entity when the entity is acting on behalf of a public body.
Waste Pro argued in the case that the county did not outsource all waste collection to the company, which it said should protect the company from having to comply with registration requests. .
“They (Waste Pro) base this argument on the fact that residents in the geographic area covered by the agreement have the ability to haul their own waste to the landfill and because Waste Pro does not pick up biomedical waste for the county. Additionally, Waste Pro is requesting an exemption due to their limited geographic area as they do not pick up countywide,” Dickey’s order states. “However, none of these reasons are valid. They still provide residential waste collection in lieu of the county and have assumed the county’s public obligation.”
A press release issued by Adams Sanitation following the judge’s order said: “Assuming Waste Pro complies with the court order – and we assume they will, after all, Waste Pro has filed a lawsuit, we will share those records with you (the public).”
The release notes Adams is particularly interested in examining how much Waste Pro’s profit margin “has increased” under its current contract with the county.
The judge’s order also clarified that it did not affect the validity of the franchise agreement between Waste Pro and the county — the exhibit Adams has long disputed.
What is the context of the sanitation dispute?
Santa Rosa County has offered exclusive sanitation contracts since 2011. In July 2020, Waste Pro extended its exclusive contract with Santa Rosa County through the end of 2024. But in late 2020, Adams Sanitation began hiring residents of northern Santa Rosa County. for his service, which began on January 1, 2021.
Waste Pro filed its first lawsuit against Adams in November 2020, sparking the Sanitation Wars. At the end of that month, Adams filed a countersuit claiming Waste Pro’s July 2020 contract was in violation of an earlier contract they had signed with the county. Eventually, the Santa Rosa County Board of Commissioners granted Adams a permit to perform service north of the Yellow River, threatening Waste Pro’s exclusivity.
The licensing of Adams highlighted the commissioners’ confusion around sanitation franchising rules in the county, and the commissioners ultimately voted to fire longtime county attorney Roy Andrews on the question.
After obtaining a permit for the northern end of the county, Adams Sanitation then applied for permission to serve the southern part of the county. In 2021, the request was denied.
Adams appealed to the Board of County Commissioners for the denial of the south end permit. The appeal hearing with the county was set for September 9, 2021, but the commission later informed Adams that the hearing had been canceled, prompting a new lawsuit from Adams which alleged a violation of due process. company.
Adams began service in the south end of the county without this permit, and in mid-October 2021 Waste Pro was successful in obtaining a temporary injunction that prevented Adams Sanitation from collecting garbage in the south end of the county.
According to Adams’ press release, the issue of his southern Santa Rosa County license will return to the Santa Rosa County Commission on September 8.