Meck asks Marlinton for compensation
The operator of a garbage collection company asked Marlinton town council for compensation for five lost garbage contracts at the council meeting Monday evening.
Jacob Meck, owner of Allegheny Disposal, LLC, does not oppose the town taking over the garbage accounts, but wants compensation for money he paid to get those accounts.
Meck purchased the County Disposal company in 2007 and paid an undisclosed amount for the contracts that came with the company, including contracts for properties inside the Marlinton corporate limits. Since then, Allegheny Disposal has been collecting garbage for certain businesses in the hospital area and those businesses have not paid the town garbage fee.
Mayor Joe Smith informed the business owners that the town garbage ordinance required them to pay the town garbage collection fee, whether they use the town service or not.
"In order to keep from raising our garbage rates, we decided that everybody would be paying the Town of Marlinton, if they was in the corporate limits," he said. "Part of that was the places up next to the hospital, which is the Pocahontas Pharmacy, the health care facility up there, the clinic and hospice and Dr. Soriano's office - is in the corporate limits and they had not been utilizing our services. We have contacted all them people and they have all agreed to come to the town services, no problem."
Smith said he contacted Meck to tell him the town would be taking over the garbage accounts and the business owner was "not happy" with the news.
Meck said his 2007 purchase of County Disposal had gone through the Public Service Commission and had included public notice requirements. The business owner requested compensation for the lost accounts.
"I am not necessarily, certainly, fighting the town as far as taking these over," he said. "I did pay for these accounts and I would certainly be interested in passing these on to the town. However, I am making a mortgage on those. I purchased these and I would like to be compensated for them."
The mayor said Meck lacked jurisdiction to pick up garbage in the town.
"I do not know what the answer is," he said. "I have not talked to the Public Service, but you have no jurisdiction within the corporate limits to take garbage."
Councilmember David Zorn asked Meck why the town should pay.
"How do you justify that - that the town should pay you for your business dealings?" he asked.
Smith said pharmacist Jim Burks and Dr. John Sharp owned County Disposal and probably worked out a verbal agreement with the town, which allowed them to pick up garbage at their businesses in the hospital area.
Councilmember Loretta Malcomb said ignoring town ordinances is "bad dealing."
"That was their bad dealing by not going by the ordinance," she said. "They just figured they would take care of their own businesses and they didn't bother to check the ordinance and they just ignored us - what they did."
Recorder Robin Mutscheller told Meck he might have made a bad deal.
"But you may have been sold something that nobody had the right to sell you," she said. "That's why an attorney needs to look at it and advise us on what our options are."
Councilmember Norris Long said he knew Meck to be an honorable businessman and recommended that council refer the matter to the town attorney.
"I would suggest that we have our legal counsel get with Mr. Meck and try to work out an amiable mediation and have him report back to us for approval," he said.
Smith said he would discuss the matter with the town attorney and keep Meck informed.
The mayor proposed setting fees for town work for private parties, such as sewage work and grass cutting on private property and work for festival committees.
"I'm a strong supporter of Pioneer Days - anybody who knows me knows that," he said. "This past Pioneer Days, the town employees spent three days working for Pioneer Days, setting up fences and moving bleachers and things like that. I think that the town needs to be lenient toward non-profit organizations, but, at the same time, we just can't give away and give away and give away."
Smith recommended a charge of $10 per hour for workers and $50 per hour for an excavator.
Councilmembers expressed support for Smith's idea and the mayor said he would finalize his plan and put the item on the agenda for the September meeting.
During the mayor's report, Smith said he had located a contractor, Underwater Services, Inc., to perform smoke testing of the town's sewer lines, at a cost of $3,535. The purpose of the testing is to locate stormwater infiltration into the sewer lines.
The mayor said he had received a complaint about stray cats. Zorn said the animal ordinance committee, which is finalizing an ordinance to deal with animal problems, will hold a public meeting on August 18.
Council voted 5-0 to conduct an executive session to discuss a potential real estate sale or purchase in the disputed Courtney Avenue area. Councilmember Louise Barnisky was not present. After returning to open session, council said they will conduct a public work session at Courtney Avenue on Wednesday, August 3, at 7 p.m.
In other business, Marlinton council:
- voted 5-0 to approve a $20,000 final payment to construction contractor Kanawha Stone for work on the town's sewage system and stormwater drainage system.
- voted 5-0 to approve a new citizen complaint form and an employee counseling form.
- voted 5-0 to schedule the September regular meeting for Tuesday, September 6, due to Labor Day.
- voted 5-0 to adopt a hazard mitigation plan. The plan is available for review on CD at the town office.
The next regular Marlinton council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, September 6, 7 p.m. at the municipal building. The animal ordinance committee will hold a public meeting on August 18, time to be announced.