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Harrison Co. Utility Authority sues city of Gulfport over breach of contract

By Stacey Cato

A stinky situation among Gulfport city leaders and Harrison County Utility Authority members has found it’s way to court.

The Harrison County Utility Authority recently filed suit against the City of Gulfport for breaking its solid waste collection and disposal contract. The lawsuit, filed last week in the Harrison County Chancery Court, asks the court to order the city to remain in its county-wide garbage and recycling contract with HCUA.

According to the lawsuit, in 1991, the City of Gulfport – along with Harrison County and other cities in the county – entered into separate Solid Waste Service Contracts with the Harrison County Solid Waste Management District for a term of 44 years or until February 2035.

In 2006, the Mississippi Legislature created the HCUA, which consolidated the Harrison County Wastewater and Solid Waste Management District into the HCUA. The contract, utility leaders say, includes giving HCUA the power and right to regulate and control solid waste within its jurisdictional boundaries.

At an Aug. 24 meeting of the Harrison County Utility Authority some HCUA board members said it will cost tax payers millions of dollars if Gulfport chose to break it’s contract. In an attempt to avoid the costly situation, leaders said they voted to move forward with legal action.

According to a letter from the City of Gulfport, the city felt it was in their best interest to “explore other options and
deliver better administration and more efficient solid waste collection services at a lower cost to the citizens than under the contract.”

A decision to not renew an ending contract with Waste Pro was made earlier this year by HCUA.

That move has raised rates and cut services on garbage and debris pick-up. The City of Gulfport disagreed with HCUA’s decision and signed on for another six-years with Waste Pro last month. HCUA is also seeking to have that contract terminated.

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