Tribune-Courier News Editor
BENTON — The Office of the Kentucky Attorney General found no criminal violations by the Marshall County Refuse Board.
Richard Badaracco, commissioner of the attorney general’s office of criminal investigations, sent Marshall Judge-Executive Mike Miller a full copy of the investigation in a letter dated Oct. 1.
Miller requested the investigation after prompting from County Commissioners Misti Drew and Terry Anderson. The commissioners complained of an improper relationship between the board and a recycler. Both said the board paid the recycler to take white goods without compensation for recycling scrap metals.
Anderson said he believed the county lost over $100,000 in materials contained in the white goods. He also complained the refuse board spent more than $20,000 annually for hauling the white goods and ignored requests by County Attorney Jeff Edwards to bid for hauling services for the discarded appliances.
Refuse Board director Danny Newton said the board needed to build an additional refuse transfer station before Murray Recycling submitted a low bid for the recyclables. The $35,000 the county received for the first year of the new agreement covered all recyclable goods, including paper, plastic, metals and white goods. Newton maintained the board complied with the county attorney’s request as expediently as possible.
Newton said the arrangement with the former recycler, Clean Earth Recycling, dated back to 1992 and lasted until 2011. Due to fluctuations in price for scrap metals, there were periods where transportation costs exceeded the value of the white goods. Removal and processing costs of refrigerants also added to the expense of recycling old appliances.
According to the investigation, Murray Recycling pays market value for the scrap metal. Prices have fallen to $75 and rose above $100 per ton in 2010.
Anderson and Drew objected to the reappointment of Newton and Charlie Edwards to the refuse board. Assistant County Attorney Lisa Carter said Newton was appointed by the Benton City Council as the largest city participating in the Refuse Taxation District and that his appointment was legal and appropriate.
“Mr. Edwards stated that he didn’t feel the board members had done anything that could be construed as illegal or unethical,” the investigation report read.
Edwards said he recommended bidding and selling discarded white goods as they did have value. He added other county property could be legally discarded and sold if a bidding process was not followed.
“The refuse board needs to abide by the advice given to them by their legal authority and handle the recyclable materials as surplus property,” the report admonished. “It appears that the advice of Marshall County Attorney Jeff Edwards has been implemented.”
Miller said he never believed the Refuse Board violated any law, but wanted an independent investigation with allegations made in Fiscal Court.
“I think the Attorney General’s Office has been very thorough,” Miller said. “I hope we can put this behind us and move on.”