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BFI surcharge fuels debate

By By MARY-ALLISON LANCASTER-Managing editor
The Escambia County Solid Waste Disposal Authority revealed Monday morning that BFI has been attaching a surcharge on commercial customers. One county commissioner was personally affected by the additional charge.
Commissioner Wiley Tait told committee members he was managing the account this time and noticed a "fuel recovery fee" had been added to his bill. Tait's wife typically handles the bills,
The surcharge for Tait was rounded out to nearly $15 a month. Authority members were uncertain whether the surcharge varied upon services or if it was a standard fee for other customers affected by the charge.
According to Commissioner David Stokes, who is a member of the authority, a clause in the agreement with BFI states that when fuel prices rise, BFI has the authority to implement a fuel recovery surcharge. However, he said it also clearly states that before a charge is implemented the additional fee must be presented and approved by the committee.
According to the authority, BFI never contacted any officials and authority members were unaware of the timeframe on how long the fee had been attached to area bills.
Since the fee has continued to be added, the authority is requesting that BFI cease charges for the fuel adjustment cost, and refund any collected fees they have received from all the customers charged, Chairman Larry White said.
BFI then must come back to the authority to obtain authorization for a fuel adjustment surcharge.
Committee members will be sending BFI a notice about the discrepancy and will attach a copy of the contract with the highlighted portions that BFI must come to the authority before the surcharge is added.
The number of charges to commercial customers was uncertain by authority members. BFI contract manager Barry Barter was out of town and unavailable for comment.
The members of the authority are Stokes, Williamson, William Brown, Tait, White, county engineer Bill Bridges and Pettis.