HCUA votes to pursue legal action against the City of Gulfport

HCUA votes to pursue legal action against the City of Gulfport

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The Harrison County Utility Authority has decided it will sue the City of Gulfport for not meeting its obligation under the solid waste contract.  At Thursday's meeting with attorneys on hand, the contract issue was debated.

Late into the meeting, Harrison County Supervisor Marlin Ladner got to the point when talking to Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes.

Ladner said, "You did not meet your obligation under the contract that we, the Utility Authority, had with each other.  If you don't meet that contract, our only option left is to sue.  Yes, mayor you may not ,but we do because we're fixing to lose a lot of money. Not lose it, our constituents are going to pay for it."

Ladner says if Gulfport breaks away from the contract, the citizens will have to come up with $3 million over the next six years. In the end, the board voted to take legal action against Gulfport.

The issue began when the City of Gulfport decided it would sign its own solid waste collection and negotiated a contract with Waste Pro, breaking away from the Harrison County Utility Authority's new deal with two new companies, Team Waste and Pelican waste.

Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes says he doesn't want to sue, but is ready to do what he has to do if lawyers get involved.

Hewes said, "If we're sued we're going to have to respond. we're not looking for a legal remedy here.  We're looking for an operational move forward. You're effectively let us us of a contract with Teas Waste that does not include Gulfport."

Supervisor Angel Middleton says the Harrison County Utility Authority was devised was to have Coast cities save money.

Middleton said, "The reason this board was formed is because we have one common bind that holds this together. It is water, sewer, and solid waste, which is garbage. That is why we were formed, why we all came together.  It's to save money and benefit the people we represent."

After the meeting, Mayor Hewes sent a statement to WLOX in response to the Harrison County Utility Authority's vote to pursue legal action saying in part:

"Gulfport was able to negotiate a better contract for its citizens regarding solid waste than the Harrison County Utility was....They want us to pay for their poor negotiation."

Unless the two sides can come to an agreement before Oct. 1, lawyers on both sides will get involved in trying to settle the dispute.

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