City moves forward with sale of commercial waste service

Published 5:34 pm Wednesday, May 8, 2019

The LaGrange Solid Waste Authority received updates on the sale of the city’s commercial waste service and voted in favor of changes to the agreement on Tuesday.

The authority, which is made up of members of the LaGrange City Council, met for the first time in a year on April 15 to approve the sale, but changes to the timeline of the sale made it necessary for the authority to meet again.

“At our last meeting, we received an offer that the authority accepted of $3 million that was supposed to close on or before May 1,” City Manager Meg Kelsey said. “There has been a little bit of a delay in that because city staff has been working diligently to put together inventory list of vehicles, we finally got through that process. The agreement has changed a little bit, and we finally have for you an asset purchase agreement along with a bill of sale with the vehicles and all of that listed here.”

The price of the sale remained the same, but the date to close the sale moved to on or before July 1. It was unclear as of Tuesday if the change would impact start dates for the new service for customers. According to Kelsey, LaGrange Sanitation Services also put forward $100,000 in earnest money because of the delay. The Solid Waste Authority unanimously voted to approve the asset agreement and bill of sale subject to approval by Thornton and Kelsey, allowing for any non-material corrections to the agreement that may be required to complete the sale.

Chip Russell, the owner of LaGrange Sanitation Services, who is purchasing the city’s commercial sanitation service, briefly addressed the council during the meeting.

“You are going to be extremely pleased with us,” Russell said. “We are going to make you look really good, and the industries — we know the automotive industry backwards and forwards, so those anchors in the community will be pleased as well with us taking it over. Anything else we can do to help, we solve problems. We take an engineering stance in a service industry, so anything that we can do to help, we will always go above and beyond.”

Russell said that while he does not personally live in LaGrange, he has personal connections to the city.

“Your town is just beautiful. You’ve done such an amazing job of bringing in industry [and] promoting that,” Russell said.

“You have a vibrant city, and it has really attracted me to your city life. My grandfather was a trustee in the 70s at LaGrange College, and so I’ve got lots of ties through LaGrange in some shape or form. My childhood pastor is now the pastor at First United Methodist, and so it has been kind of cool to re-connect with some of those people.”

Russell said his company hopes to be involved with the Boys & Girls Club and other outreach efforts to better the community.

Council Member Nathan Gaskin asked about the employment status of the city’s commercial sanitation department employees, and Kelsey said that the majority of the employees from the department had received job offers from Russell.

She said that some of the department’s employees had decided to remain with the City of LaGrange — pursuing open jobs in city streets or landscaping departments — meaning that no employees are expected to face unemployment due to the transfer of ownership.

“We will relocate those employees that do not decide to go with Mr. Russell’s company into those areas,” Kelsey said. “We have discussed that with all of the employees.”

Thornton noted that the transfer will however mean fewer employees on the city payroll.