The Town of Grand Island has sued Waste Management of New York, the refuse disposal company that used to pick up garbage for the town’s residents.
The town, citing a breach of contract, wants $2.4 million in damages.
The dispute between the town and the company revolves around whether the town could renew its garbage collection contract with the company in 2007, according to the State Supreme Court lawsuit.
The town sent an email to Waste Management on Jan. 2, 2007, confirming the town wished to renew the contract. Later that day, the company informed the town the contract had expired and had not been renewed, according to the lawsuit.
“That [renewal] clause was in the contract, and we never got any indication from them that they were not interested in the next renewal,” said Town Supervisor Mary Cooke, who served on the Town Board at the time. “We were taken by surprise.”
Three days later, the town contracted with Allied Waste Services “in an effort to avoid a public health emergency,” according to the town’s lawsuit.
“Allied Waste came in and helped us,” Cooke said. “It was a scramble to get everything done and get garbage trucks back on the street.”
But the new contract cost more.
The $2.4 million is the difference between the new hauler’s price and what the town said it contracted to pay Waste Management under the disputed contract for the next four years, according to the lawsuit.
This year, the town is paying Allied Waste Services $1.3 million to serve 7,122 single-family customers in Grand Island. A single-family residence pays $185 for the service.
Waste Management has not yet answered the town’s lawsuit, said Daniel A. Spitzer, an attorney for the town.
A Waste Management spokeswoman declined to comment on the pending litigation.
In 2007, the town spent money from a contingency fund to hire Allied Waste Services.
If the town prevails in the lawsuit and collects the $2.4 million, Cooke said, “it would allow us to recover some of the money it took to pay for the garbage pickup in an emergency manner.”
The town entered into the disputed contract with Republic Services in 2004 for townwide garbage pickup for 2005 and 2006. Waste Management acquired the contract from Republic in 2005.
The town said the contract included a clause that gave the town the option to renew the contract for the same terms for two successive two-year periods, according to the lawsuit.
“Almost immediately upon assuming the contract, Waste Management began objecting to terms in the contract and failing to abide by service provisions of the contract,” according to the lawsuit.
For almost two years, Waste Management breached other parts of the contract as well, including beginning service before 7 a.m., damaging residents’ property, littering on residents’ property and refusing to take more than 10 items of garbage per home per week, as called for under certain conditions, according to the lawsuit.