Waste firm: Keep records pri­vate

Austin American-Statesman - - COMMUNITY NEWS - By Claire Os­born cos­born@states­man.com Con­tact Claire Os­born at 2460040.

The op­er­a­tor of Wil­liamson County’s land­fill ar­gued be­fore an ap­peals court Mon­day that its daily re­ceipts shouldn’t be con­sid­ered pub­lic in­for­ma­tion.

Waste Man­age­ment at­tor­ney Brad Young said in his open­ing ar­gu­ment in the 11th District Court of Ap­peals that the waste com­pany, which runs the county-owned land­fill in Hutto, has a pro­vi­sion in its con­tract with Wil­liamson County that al­lowed the com­pany to keep cer­tain records se­cret.

Ros­alind Hunt, an as­sis­tant at­tor­ney gen­eral for the Texas At­tor­ney Gen­eral’s of­fice, said the re­quested re­ceipts ought to be re­leased be­cause Waste Man­age­ment did not raise any ob­jec­tions dur­ing the 10 days it had to re­spond to the re­quest.

She also said that the re­ceipts should not be con­sid­ered se­cret be­cause the waste com­pany’s con­tract with the county gave the county ac­cess to all the land­fill records.

The dis­pute started in Au­gust 2009 when Kurt John­son asked Wil­liamson County for the waste com­pany’s daily re­ceipts for July 14, 2009. The county passed the re­quest to Waste Man­age­ment, which in turn asked the Texas At­tor­ney Gen­eral to rule against the re­quest, say­ing that John­son was a con­sul­tant for com­peti­tor Texas Dis­posal Sys­tems and that the in­for­ma­tion was a trade se­cret.

The Texas At­tor­ney Gen­eral ruled in Novem­ber 2009 that Waste Man­age­ment didn’t have to pro­vide the names of its cus­tomers but did have to re­lease the fees and amounts.

Waste Man­age­ment sued to pre­vent the re­lease, then ap­pealed when a Travis County judge ruled in 2010 that the com­pany had to re­lease the re­ceipts.

Kurt John­son, who said he no longer works for Texas Dis­posal Ser­vices, said Mon­day that “the 2009 Land­fill Op­er­at­ing Agree­ment states on page 19 that ‘the records kept shall re­main the ex­clu­sive prop­erty of the county.’”

It could take two to six months be­fore judges make a rul­ing on the case, a court clerk said.

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