BRISTOL, Va. — City leaders claim BVU Authority owes the city $70,000 in trash collection fees, and they’ve been unable to resolve the difference.
City Manager Randy Eads spent about 45 minutes Monday outlining the dispute to the City Council during a called midday meeting. It centers on an $11 rate increase approved by the council earlier this year, when BVU applied it to customer bills and when the city believes it should have received the additional funds.
BVU provides trash billing service for the city at a cost of about $100,000 annually.
“There’s no reason it can’t be resolved,” Eads said after the meeting. “We’re all adults; we should all be able to sit down in a room together, put our heads together and figure out a solution.”
However, that hasn’t occurred yet, based on a series of email communications that Eads showed the council involving him, city Chief Financial Officer Tamrya Spradlin, BVU President and CEO Don Bowman and other BVU officials.
At issue are when BVU began collecting the higher rate and when the city received funds.
Council approved the increase to $33 in April, meaning it went into effect May 31. On May 1, Spradlin notified BVU of the increase and — after some discussion via emails — both sides appeared to agree the higher rate would begin appearing on bills on and after July 1 — which includes billing for June’s trash collections.
On July 31, the city received a check from BVU for nearly $146,000 for trash collections — which is the amount the city disputes.
Eads asserts the city should have received the additional $70,000 to cover the July billing. In response to a question, Eads said the city did receive additional funds in September, but there is a “discrepancy” regarding those amounts.
BVU issued a written response Monday afternoon, noting it wasn’t informed about the subject of the meeting or invited to attend.
“The disagreement remains the amount to be paid to the treasurer of the city of Bristol, Virginia, for July 2019. Without offering supporting facts, the city alleges such payment should have been approximately $70,000 higher than the amount remitted by BVU,” according to the statement. “The city continues to disregard the fact that BVU did not bill or collect the increased rate in June 2019. BVU’s billing process was consistent with discussions and guidance to the city approximately 60 days in advance. Unfortunately, the City and BVU remain in disagreement regarding this payment and its potential impact to BVU customers. BVU looks forward to the City sharing any pertinent financial planning documentation and their basis for believing the city was underpaid.”
A May 1 Bowman email to Spradlin states, “The new rate would be billed in July for all trash services rendered for any part of June 2019 at the rate of $33.”
“The City Manager/Attorney [Eads] has previously threatened to file suit against BVU. Consistent with sound legal advice, BVU does not plan to comment further while under threat of litigation,” according to the statement.
BVU’s auditors are expected to discuss the issue at the authority board’s Nov. 1 meeting.
“We’re short $70,000, which is a whole lot of money to most people,” Mayor Neal Osborne said after the meeting. “I hope we can find some kind of resolution that is fair to us and what we expected.”
Vice Mayor Bill Hartley suggested that if the issue can’t be resolved quickly, perhaps the City Council and authority board should discuss it during a joint meeting.