ATLANTA - On Tuesday the commissioners from Oscoda, Montmorency and Alpena counties voted to support the landfill authority in its quest to partner with Recovered Energy Resources for construction and operation of a gasification plant at the landfill. During the landfill board's regular meeting on Friday, the board had a chance to sign the solid waste agreement with RER, but instead decided to take some extra time to have the contract reviewed by attorneys from each county even though the landfill's legal representative already had approved the language in the document.
The idea to have the agreement examined one last time by county law officials was made by Alpena County Commissioner Cam Habermehl, who told the other commissioners that when entering into a contract involving the county it is reviewed by several sources. Montmorency County Commissioner Brock Baggett argued that since the landfill board is an authority and support already was granted at the prior meeting, further examination of the documents was not needed. Habermehl said he would feel more comfortable entering into a long-term deal with RER knowing Alpena County did its due diligence first.
"In Alpena County we have a contract and grant review process in place where we don't enter into any contracts unless they are reviewed by the attorney, the treasurer, the clerk, and the finance committee chairman," Habermehl said. "They all have to sign off and say there are no issues with the contract. We need to have the contract looked at to make sure we aren't going to have any sort of liability, which we probably aren't. But the fact is we have to look out for Alpena County. We have strived to keep everything as transparent as possible and do things by the book. This is just a part of that."
Because the board is an authority, it could have voted to move forward with RER without consulting the other commissioners on the county boards. The landfill board believed it was wiser to include the others to get as much support as possible. Baggett said becaise all three boards of commissioners approved moving forward with RER Tuesday it should have been good enough to sign the agreement on Friday, especially since an attorney already had reviewed the contract.
"Why did we have a three-county board meeting where everybody voted yes except Mr. Habermehl, which approved us moving forward with this project. This is an authority unto itself and we didn't even have to have that meeting," Baggett said. "That was a courtesy meeting. We don't need four attorneys to look at this. To add more attorneys' takes on this I think is a problem. We need to move forward with this."
The contract is expected to be reviewed and the agreement, if found acceptable, could be signed at the next landfill meeting on Sept. 28.
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Steve Schulwitz can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689.