Waste firm sues Arundel, Md. agency over contract Howard company cites conflict of interest

June 30, 1996|By Tanya Jones | Tanya Jones,SUN STAFF

A Howard County waste management company is suing Anne Arundel County and a state agency, claiming the two improperly awarded a contract for the disposal of residential trash from Howard and Anne Arundel counties.

The suit by Elkridge-based Waste Management of Maryland Inc. says Anne Arundel, a member of the Northeast Maryland Waste Management Authority, had a conflict of interest when it helped choose Virginia-based Garnet Inc. because Anne Arundel County would collect $1.10 per ton of waste brought to Garnet's transfer station in Jessup.

The suit asks that decision be reversed and the contract be awarded to Waste Management of Maryland. A hearing is scheduled for July 11 in Anne Arundel Circuit Court.

The Anne Arundel County Council is scheduled to vote on whether to approve the contract tomorrow. The Howard County Council will vote on the issue July 22.

But the state attorney general's office said the so-called host-fee agreement did not create a conflict of interest for Anne Arundel or for the authority.

The authority's rules against conflict of interest apply to individual members, not to the counties they represent, said Robin D. Depot, the authority's interim executive director. Anne Arundel County public works director John M. Brusnighan represents Anne Arundel County on the board.

Garnet's bid sheet said it would transport and dispose of an average of 300 tons a day of solid waste from Howard County beginning in January 1997, and 300 to 600 tons of solid waste a day from Anne Arundel County starting next month, all at a cost of $33 a ton.

Waste Management's bid sheet said it would charge $42 a ton. The contract would last through December 1999.

During the bid process, Anne Arundel County was "motivated by its plan to have the contract awarded to Garnet so as to gain from the Development and Host Fee Agreement previously entered into between those parties," the suit states.

After Waste Management was declared the low bidder in February, the authority threw out all the bids and rewrote the request for bids to favor Garnet, the suit said.

Garnet should be rejected as a bidder because Anne Arundel County zoning does not permit a solid-waste transfer station on the property Garnet is leasing in Jessup, the suit said.

Anne Arundel and state officials say the allegations are not true.

The authority did not officially declare Waste Management to be the apparent low bidder in February, but rather asked them for more information, Depot said Friday. And the request for bids was revised for clarification, not to give Garnet an advantage, she said.

As for zoning, Garnet's transfer station will be similar to a warehouse operation, a function allowed under the Jessup property's industrial zoning, said John A. Morris, spokesman for Anne Arundel County's land-use and environment office.

Pub Date: 6/30/96

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