Harrison County

Waste Pro looking at ‘legal options’ after Harrison County utility imposed a $500K fine

A Waste Pro truck picks up garbage in Gulfport on in July.
A Waste Pro truck picks up garbage in Gulfport on in July. jcfitzhugh@sunherald.com File

The Harrison County Utility Authority on Thursday fined Waste Pro almost $500,000 for violating its contract.

The HCUA board, made up of representatives of the county and its five cities — Biloxi, D’Iberville, Gulfport, Long Beach and Pass Christian — voted to fine its former garbage collection contractor $454,000 for failing to live up to the terms of the contract from May 1, 2017, through Aug. 31, 2017.

Waste Pro counsel Amy Tingley said it is HCUA that breached the contract.

“The Harrison County Utility Authority breached its contract with Waste Pro today by not paying Waste Pro the full amount due,” Tingley, of the Orlando, Fla., law firm Stovash Case & Tingley, said in an email. “Waste Pro intends to pursue its legal options regarding that breach.”

According to a press release from HCUA, the fine comes after “months of communications with Waste Pro regarding the increasing volume of service complaints since January 2017.”

The contract, which expired Sept. 30, allowed HCUA to assess a fine of $500 per occurrence.

HCUA identified 908 service complaints that, based on available information, were not corrected within the specified time frame, according to HCUA Executive Director Donald Scharr.

“Because of the hundreds of complaints that were not resolved in a timely manner, as well as Waste Pro’s failure to provide any additional information for HCUA consideration, the HCUA Board voted to assess the fines due to HCUA per the terms of our contract with Waste Pro,” Scharr said.

When HCUA opted to contract with Team Waste of Biloxi for garbage pickup for the next six years, the city of Gulfport broke from the HCUA and contracted with Waste Pro for its garbage, rubbish and recycling service. Pelican Waste & Disposal won the contract to pickup rubbish in all of the county except Gulfport.

The HCUA said residents who still have their Waste Pro carts should continue to place them on the curb for pickup. To avoid interference with Team Waste garbage and recycling services, the Waste Pro carts should be empty, turned over and placed 4-5 feet away from the new HCUA carts.