Garbage company sues city of Haines

Posted: Tuesday, March 07, 2000

HAINES (AP) -- The city of Haines' garbage contractor has filed suit to protect its 12-year agreement with the city and to seek reimbursement tied to costs for shipping garbage out of state.

Haines Sanitation's suit claims the company's value has dropped because of uncertainty over its contract.

The company signed a 12-year contract with the city in 1998 but officials last year determined that city code limits such agreements to five years. An effort to change the code to match the contract failed in December.

Company President Lynda Walker told the Chilkat Valley News that she expects a resolution through negotiations, but that she cannot wait.

''I just can't depend on something happening in the real near future,'' Walker said. ''If something doesn't go, the suit will stand.''

Haines Sanitation's suit also seeks damages of more than $50,000 for reimbursement for the cost of closing the Haines landfill, the cost of shipping garbage out of state, and for revenue lost after it increased rates to pay for shipping out garbage.

About 70 households dropped garbage pickup service the company raised rates from about $27 to $47.50 per month. The suit says the events have made it impossible for Haines Sanitation to realize a reasonable rate of return.

City Mayor Don Otis said the company probably would prevail on the contract length dispute. But he said the company's claim for reimbursement after it raised rates is absurd.

''If Alaska Power and Telephone doubled its rates and half its customers went over to generators, do you think they'd come to the city and ask it to force people back onto the system?'' Otis said. ''I don't think so.''

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