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Bankruptcy won’t keep Community Landfill from paying

Settlement makes funds owed city for closure costs ‘non-dischargeable’

Although one of the owners of Community Landfill in Morris has filed for bankruptcy, he will be ordered to still pay what is owed to the city of Morris.

After an executive session during its regular meeting Monday, the Morris City Council approved entering into a settlement agreement with Robert Pruim and Community Landfill in regards to the bankruptcy issue.

The agreement was approved unanimously with Aldermen Randy Larson, Barry Aldrich and Duane Wolfe all absent with excused reasons. Coming out of executive session for the vote, the council gave little comment regarding the issue.

After the meeting, City Attorney Scott Belt said Pruim filed a petition in bankruptcy court in October 2011. The city was placed on notice and Pruim and Community Landfill filed papers seeking relief from an existing judgment against Community Landfill and any future personal judgments against Pruim.

In June 2011, Judge Robert Marsaglia found in favor of the city in its case against the landfill, granting its motion as to breach of contract and indemnification.

Morris was awarded then about $17.4 million in damages. This is the amount the Environmental Protection Agency estimated it would cost to close the landfill.

All through the court battles over the years, the city has maintained it owns the land along Ashley Road on which the landfill sits, but Community Landfill owns the landfill itself and, therefore, is responsible for the closure of the landfill. By not doing the closure procedures, the city said, the landfill company is in breach of contract.

Closing the landfill is expensive and includes sealing the landfill with a final cover, maintaining the property, and post closure, which is a process that continues for 30 years after the closure. Post closure requires constant testing, maintenance of the property and wells, and other requirements by the EPA.      
Belt said Monday the settlement agreement states the debt owed is non-dischargeable, and that any future judgment against Pruim would also be non-dischargeable. This means the city still has to be paid the $17.4 million it is owed.

“It is the ultimate goal (for the city to obtain the $17.4 million) and recover the costs incurred over the years having to defend ourselves for something we were not guilty of,” said Mayor Richard Kopczick.

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