CLINTON — During Thursday night's Clinton County Area Solid Waste Agency meeting, the city of Clinton represented 26 of the 52 total votes in attendance, based on the weighted voting system.
That vote distribution has led to some animosity and disagreements between the city of Clinton and the smaller cities of Clinton County.
To solve that conflict, Clinton County Supervisor Shawn Hamerlinck, a member of the CCASWA board, spent some time looking into how the 28E agreement that the agency operates under could be altered to make voting and other portions of the agreement more equitable. At Thursday's meeting he presented the information he had found so far.
The 28E agreement is an intergovernmental agreement between the cities of Clinton County to operate the landfill in Clinton. Hamerlinck said that Article 13 of the 28E agreement spells out a process for arbitration between members, and he intends to ask the Clinton County Board of Supervisors to invoke it, and also asked other members to as well.
"But I can tell you that I fully plan on invoking Article 13 and requesting it to be set in motion. I will make the request for Board (of Supervisors') discussion on Monday and can only ask that every other municipality including the city of Clinton to participate in arbitration in order to make sure we reset it," Hamerlinck said.
DeWitt representative Gary Chrones asked Hamerlinck what specific issues he would be asking to be involved in the arbitration process. Hamerlinck said that is something each council would have to decide for itself, but mentioned issues like weighted votes, head tax and tonnage cost, recycling, appliance recycling, the bill-paying process and the wording of the agreement.
The original agreement was signed in 1972, Hamerlinck said, and even includes wording from 1966 Iowa laws citing language only allowing men to serve on commissions and boards.
"Then the question is what can I do to make this more functional. In Article 13 it says when there are grievances between either a member or members of this commission or this board it allows for essentially binding arbitration," Hamerlinck said.
Clinton City Councilman Ed O'Neill, the Clinton representative, called the potential action out of line.
"I think you're way out of line what you're doing; there's a procedure and we've already done changes for amendments," O'Neill said.
O'Neill also commented that Hamerlinck is not a lawyer and that without the opinion of the agency's legal representative, John Peavy, the conversation shouldn't happen. He said there is already an amendment process laid out.
"When there was a problem with quorum we solved it with Article 12, an amendment," O'Neill said. "You want to do an amendment that's fine, but we don't have a dispute."
Paul Varner, the Camanche representative, said O'Neill not acknowledging the dispute was part of the problem and reason other members may want to enter arbitration.
"...Of course you don't see the problem. You have the weighted votes to do just about anything you want to," Varner said. "All of us have discussed it at one point or another that we don't feel (like our vote matters.)"
At the end of the discussion, Hamerlinck asked Varner to call all of the representatives of the board and make sure they were at the next meeting to continue to discuss the 28E agreement and the potential of Article 13.
It was also asked that a legal opinion on Article 13 be sought from Peavy.
The board's next meeting is 6:30 p.m. Sept. 14 at the Clinton County Area Solid Waste Agency.