After hearing he and his wife’s attempt to sue the county over it’s solid waste plan was unsuccessful, Loganville resident Verlin Gilliam said he plans to appeal. He said the basis of his appeal would be the same as his original suit - that the trash plan discriminates against those residents who hold a mortgage and escrow their taxes into the payment. Gilliam said the reason he considers it discriminatory is because the banks can, and in his case did, charge an extra anticipatory fee based on the possibility that the haulers could raise the rates.
Aaron Bovos, chief financial officer and deputy county administrator, said the possible impact to escrow accounts was considered during the study and implementation of the county’s solid waste plan, but noted that escrow agreements are between the homeowner and the mortgage holder.
“It is traditional for mortgage holders to be able to contact their lending institution to discuss the associated escrow collections. This includes the ability for mortgage holders to request refunds for escrow balances, should an overcharge occur,” Bovos said.
Superior Court Judge Michael Clark ruled June 9 that the county has the authority to contract with private companies to provide trash serves and to charge the fees on the property tax bill and collect the fees as far in advance as is reasonably necessary. Bovos said it also was possible that the increase in fees Gilliam received from his mortgage company was not just related to the extra charges for trash pick-up.
"It is hard to determine if the escrow increase is strictly related to the solid waste fee, or whether it partially pertains to the 2009 millage rate increase, which was adopted in December of 2009 and billed in March of 2010,” Bovos said.
Gilliam said his mortgage went up by $57.04 a month in August 2010, the month after the county added a charge of $321.18 to property tax bills for the first 18 months of trash pick-up.
Regarding Gilliam's belief that Superior Court Judge Clark’s ruling had, in part, been bound by court procedures that Gilliam, in representing himself, was not sufficiently learned in, Bovos said he was not in a position to weigh in. Gilliam said he’d had no choice but to represent himself since all the attorneys he tried to solicit for his case, 11 in total, all claimed a conflict because of a prior working relationship with the county.
“I am not in the position to opine on the Judge’s methodology or reasoning for ruling,” Bovos said, adding, “However, in the ruling, it does state 'The court relies in part on the record of other cases before it, including Sanitation Solutions et al. v. Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful, et al., … Republic Services of Georgia, Limited Partnership et al v. Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful, Inc. et al,' … etc. It is my understanding that attorneys represented both the named plaintiff’s and defendants in these cases, which were used in determining Mr. Gilliam’s legal position.”
In a letter Gilliam hand delivered to the judge's offices Thursday, he said he intends to see if he can find an attorney who will take the case to the state Supreme Court or a federal district court.