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James L. White/Staff

Ozark Mountain Solid Waste District board chairman Mickey Pendergrass (front) signs checks following a board meeting Friday. Also seen here are waste district director Melinda Caldwell and district lawyer John Verkamp.

The Ozark Mountain Solid Waste District board has approved a tentative settlement agreement that could see the end of a lawsuit filed against the district by Methvin Sanitation.

Methvin Sanitation has sued both the Ozark Mountain district and the White River Regional Solid Waste Management District.

A solid waste district can collect $2 for every ton of solid waste a hauler picks up in the district, but dumps outside the district. It has been collecting that fee from Methvin as he hauled trash to a dump in Fulton County.

However, the White River district charged Methvin $1 per ton going in the landfill.

In the lawsuit, Methvin maintains that one or both districts had threatened to revoke the hauling license if the “excessive” fee is not paid. The suit seeks an injunction barring those districts from such action while the lawsuit is pending.

Methvin also asks the court to require both districts to create an interlocal agreement regarding how those fees are assessed and divided, or to split the $2 fee equally.

At a March hearing in the suit, Kelsey Bardwell, Methvin’s lawyer, asked the court to require Ozark Mountain to put $1 of the fee it was collecting into the court registry until the case was resolved.

John Verkamp, representing Ozark Mountain, argued that there was no actual damage because Methvin had built all those fees into the amount he charged his customers.

Judge Andrew Bailey denied Methvin’s motion and ordered that the case be set for final hearing. He also ordered the parties into mediation.

At the district board meeting Friday, Verkamp told board members that mediation had been completed.

He explained that mediation revealed White River didn’t itemize the $1 “host fee” it had charged Methvin, simply including it in the total tipping fee.

Board chairman Mickey Pendergrass said Friday that Methvin didn’t realize he was paying the fee for the five years.

Verkamp said Methvin had been withholding the $2 fee payment to both district’s since March 1. The proposed settlement would see Methvin pay both districts $1 per ton of trash dumped between March 1 and June 30.

Beginning July 1 and through June 30, 2020, Methvin would pay Ozark Mountain $1.25 per ton and 75 cents per ton to White River.

Pendergrass said he held out for that fee split until the matter can be renegotiated prior to the June 2020 deadline.

“They don’t really need the money and we do,” Pendergrass said. Those fees are the only source of Ozark’s income and it will soon take over responsibility for the NABORS landfill once it is completely closed, which includes for treatment of leachate from the cells.

Both districts also would agree to pay Methvin a lump sum of $25,000 each. The agreement also would see Methvin’s lawsuit dismissed with prejudice.

All parties involved had signed off on the agreement, but Verkamp said both district boards must approve it and the court must accept it.

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