Atlanta council votes to pay $19 million to settle trash collection lawsuit

Atlanta residents speak out about how shortage of maintenance workers affects apartment living

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Atlanta residents speak out about how shortage of maintenance workers affects apartment living

The city of Atlanta has agreed to pay $19 million to settle a lawsuit from condominium owners seeking relief from annual garbage fees.

In a resolution approved by the City Council on Monday, the city’s chief financial officer will deposit the money into an escrow account to refund the McKillips family and their attorneys, as well as other settlement class members.

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The city’s annual frontage fees for trash pick up and street sweeping increased to a range of $500 to $12,000 per property for commercial or multi-family developments, according to the complaint filed in Fulton Superior Court in February. But the lawsuit alleges Atlanta’s frontage fee is “an illegal tax, rather than a reasonable fee for any solid waste collection services provided by the City.”

The litigation also alleges Atlanta “has not engaged” in waste collection.

City Councilwoman Natalyn Archibong said the city is preparing a recommendation to revise the city code “to amend the disputed fees,” and to adopt a “new method of collections.”

“Any changes to the rate will be vetted in a very public square scenario where there will be lots of public comment,” Archibong said.

Mohamed Balla, Atlanta’s chief financial officer, said the city’s general fund will initially cover the $19 million. The intent is for the city’s solid waste fund to reimburse the general fund for these costs at a later time, he said.

Council President Felicia Moore said that the solid waste fund would have to reimburse the general fund in the future because the former account “has been in deficit” for years.

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