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Trash hauler's certification may be in peril

The county will hold a hearing in two weeks to decide whether to suspend or revoke the certification for garbage hauler Majestic Disposal, a move that could leave its customers looking for another trash collector.

At issue is whether Majestic Disposal failed to update its certification when the company changed ownership this year, and whether its workers' compensation coverage lapsed from Jan. 20 to June 1. The county also questions the company's financial strength and alleges that the hauler has skimped on paying some tipping fees.

"The current status of Majestic Disposal relative to certification, disposal agreement and financial assurance is such that they cannot demonstrate to their customers or the county that they can provide reliable, regulatory-compliant, financially stable service," Solid Waste Management director Susan Metcalfe wrote in a July 13 letter to the hauler.

Among the complaints listed in her letter, Metcalfe charges that Majestic Disposal has avoided paying a higher tipping fee for city garbage by not identifying the trash it hauls from Crystal River. The tipping fee for city garbage is $45 a ton, compared with $30 a ton in the rest of the county, because Crystal River and Inverness residents do not pay the county's $17 landfill assessment, she said.

Majestic Disposal received Crystal River franchising rights in April, and spot checks show the hauler is bringing garbage from the city to the landfill, Metcalfe said. But Majestic Disposal has not identified its city garbage or paid the higher tipping fee, she said.

County staffers will outline their seven charges against the hauler at a July 31 hearing before County Administrator Richard Wesch. Majestic Disposal officials will get a chance to respond to each of the charges before Wesch decides what action, if any, to take.

Majestic Disposal officials did not return calls Tuesday for comment.

Metcalfe did not know how many customers are served by Majestic Disposal. But she said the Inverness-based hauler brings more than 400 tons of trash to the landfill every month, accounting for more than 6 percent of the county's waste.

County officials are concerned about the company's cash flow. Majestic Disposal has bounced several checks at the landfill, although the company was later able to pay the county what it owed, Metcalfe said.

"They are not in debt to us," she said. "They just run precariously close."

If the company's certification was suspended or revoked, Metcalfe said the county would make sure customers did not go without service. But she said that extreme measure could be avoided if the company addresses the county's concerns before the July 31 hearing.

"We hope to see some responses in the interim here," Metcalfe said. "As we told them in the letter, if they can resolve some of this stuff before the hearing, that's good."