At its Jan. 8 meeting, the Region 2000 Service Authority unanimously voted to authorize the retainer of attorney Jeremy Carroll to represent the Authority in a pending lawsuit regarding the distribution of excess revenue funds. The funds in question amount to more than $2.5 million.
The Region 2000 Service Authority is a four-member entity comprised of representatives from Appomattox County, Campbell County, City of Lynchburg and Nelson County. The authority operates the landfills on behalf of the localities which they represent.
With the lawsuit by Campbell County and the City of Lynchburg served on the Authority, it’s only a matter of time before this matter of semantics is made clear moving forward.
The attorney chosen to represent the Authority will represent them in the case at the rate of $200 per hour.
In the lawsuit, Campbell and Lynchburg are asking the court to define “excess of revenue.”
Reid Wodicka, who represents Lynchburg City on the board, addressed his fellow board members.
“Frankly, this is really quite an awkward experience,” said Wodicka. “We are the governing body of this critical piece of infrastructure for all of our communities and unfortunately, we’ve not been able to agree on what I would suggest is fairly a straightforward administrative issue. This is all, to me, is a little bit odd because we find ourselves not only being representatives and advocates for our communities but also we operate in the interest of the entire authority. So this is certainly a challenging thing.”
Because the process has been long and winding, Wodicka thought the best way to resolve everything would be through the court.
With such an even split between all the members of the authority, he thought it would be unfair to instruct the attorney to take a specific defense.
With such thoughts shared with the board, Wodicka moved forward with a motion.
Wodicka made the motion to authorize the retainer of Jeremy Carroll to represent the Authority in the lawsuit. The motion also included authorizing Carroll to file an answer representing only that the Authority asked the court to take no action to the prejudice of the Authority. The attorney is not authorized to take any other stance in court without a vote from the Authority’s board. The motion was seconded by Campbell County Administrator and chair of the authority, Frank Rogers.
The motion was met with unanimous approval from the board.
Due to the services authority being split 2 to 2 on approving the annual distribution of revenue, these funds have not been dispersed in the fiscal 2019 or 2020.
At the Cambell County’s Board of Supervisors’ meeting on March 3, Frank Rogers explained that the excess revenue was a system for compensating Lynchburg and Campbell for air space over a long period of time. Otherwise paying for the air space would have been cost-prohibitive if payment was required up front.
“Under this method that was derived, commercial tonnage that comes in pays $10 more than the cost of service per ton,” said Rogers.
At this time, per Rogers’ presentation, it costs the authority $30.25 to handle each ton of trash. For commercial tonnage, the cost per ton comes up to $40.25. That $10 mark up is then redistributed to Lynchburg City and Campbell County, contingent on the amount of airspace used. Typically, it’s a 70/30 split with 70 percent going to Campbell County and 30 percent going to Lynchburg City.
“In short, they’re supposed to pay us over time rather than pay us a one-time payment,” said Rogers.
Rogers said taxpayer dollars from the county’s general fund would have to go to waste services, which means less on the table for deputy raises, public education and other local issues of importance.
Following Rogers’ presentation, the Campbell County board of supervisors opted to take legal action against Appomattox and Nelson counties. It was a unanimous decision.
In a statement released to the press last year, Adams who represents Appomattox County offered an explanation for the decision to vote against dispersing the funds.
“Appomattox County’s vote to not disburse the FY2019 Excess Revenue funds to Campbell County and the City of Lynchburg was never intended to do anything other than say let’s delay the disbursement of over $1,000,0000 until we make sure the debt service payments, landfill closure costs, environmental remediation measures, future planning reserves, operations & maintenance funds, and capital reserve funds are properly funded,” stated Adams. “Also, the financial Pro Forma that has been presented by the Regional Authority reflects an increase of tipping fees to the localities over the next few years to cover the cost of operations. As we know, this ultimately means an increase to the local operational budgets that could result in a potential tax increase.”
Adams noted that there’s a misunderstanding somewhere.
“Campbell County speaks of owning landfill capacity in which the Regional Authority owes them for the remaining capacity. Apparently, the information has been miscommunicated, misconstrued, or just misunderstood,” Adams added. “Mr. Hefty who currently serves and has served as legal counsel for the Regional Authority since its inception advised the Authority’s membership that we don’t owe any additional money for the landfill capacity asset and is why the Authority votes annually on the amount that it wishes to disburse to Campbell County and the City of Lynchburg. Member Use Agreement, written by Mr. Hefty, states in Section 5.11 Excess Revenue, ‘in the event there is Excess Revenue at the end of the Fiscal Year, the Authority Board may vote to disburse some or all of such Excess Revenue …” The private hauler fees shall be set on a cost-plus basis methodology, which will allow the Authority to recover the cost of service as well as to allow the Authority to create a capital or other reserve fund or to reimburse the Member Jurisdictions for their capital and other costs. Not only was Campbell County paid for the landfill capacity asset during the transfer, but since 2009, they have received a total payout of approximately $9 million in Excess Revenues from the Authority. Once it is determined that all of the protective measures are in place and Appomattox will not be responsible for an additional payout for impending closure expenses to the regional landfill, I am sure that an affirmative vote for payment of a portion of the excess revenues to Campbell County and Lynchburg will occur. Appomattox County leadership stands behind equality and integrity and would never position itself to not be in good standings with its neighboring counties nor create circumstances that would impact our collaborative efforts to enhance economic development. Regionalism has no boundaries and EVERYONE benefits from each other’s’ successes.”