Harrison County

Trash fees up in other cities, county after Gulfport backed out of deal. Now it has to pay. 

The city of Gulfport will pay $700,000 to the Harrison County Utility Authority for the higher rates the county and four of its cities say they have to charge because Gulfport withdrew from a countywide garbage collection contract.

HCUA estimates its current contract with Team Waste costs 47 cents more per household without Gulfport, the largest member city.

Circuit Court Judge Lisa Dodson ruled that Gulfport would have to pay for any “adverse effect” its withdrawal caused HCUA under the terms of the contract in force when the city gave notice in March that it planned to withdraw.

Gulfport appealed Dodson’s decision but is planning to dismiss the appeal and settle the case with HCUA, said Tim Holleman, one of the attorneys representing HCUA.

Due to Gulfport’s withdrawal, HCUA estimates its added cost for garbage collection at $1.4 million over the life of the six-year contract that started Oct. 1, 2017, with Team Waste. Holleman said HCUA was willing to accept $700,000 as a settlement because the city will pay the money up front.

“We’re happy we were able to resolve it,” he said. “In my opinion, it should have been resolved without a lawsuit. The issue of the contract was never in doubt from the beginning.”

Gulfport gave proper notice of withdrawal and offered an acceptable alternative plan, Dodson found. Gulfport negotiated what the city considers to be a more advantageous contract with Waste Pro, which previously had the HCUA contract for garbage collection.

During the litigation, attorneys for Gulfport said HCUA offered “no evidence” that it tried to negotiate a contract that would offer a lower cost per household for garbage collection.

Under its contract, Gulfport still has twice garbage collection, while the county and its four cities have collection only once a week. Recycled waste is picked up once a week in the county and its other four cities and once every two weeks in Gulfport.