Mestellar v. Gwinnett CountyAnnotate this Case
Robert Mesteller brought suit to challenge Gwinnett County and its Board of Commissioners' (County) Solid Waste Ordinance. He appealed a superior court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the County. Relying upon the Home Rule provision of the Georgia Constitution (among others), the County adopted the Solid Waste Collection and Disposal Ordinance of 2010. Under the Ordinance, the County was divided into five zones, each to be serviced by a private waste management company. The County collected fees for the waste collection services through annual tax assessment notices, which it then remits to the five service providers, minus the service fee. Mesteller received a property tax bill that showed a fee for solid waste collection services. Acting pro se, he sued the County and the members of its Board of Commissioners, individually and as members of the Board, alleging the assessment and collection of the fee violated the Georgia Constitution. After notice and a hearing, the superior court granted the County's motion for summary judgment. Mesteller contended on appeal that the County was without authority to use the annual property tax bill to assess or collect fees for solid waste services because by contracting with private waste management companies to collect solid waste, the County was not, in fact, "provid[ing] solid waste collection services" within the meaning of OCGA 12-8-39.3 (a), and therefore not authorized to place the collection fee on the tax bill of a property owner or to enforce the collection of the fee as set forth in the statute. The Supreme Court concluded that Mestellar's argument "reveal[ed] a misunderstanding of the precedents of [the] Court." As such, the Court affirmed the superior court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the County.