Joe Nelson, Staff Writer
Posted: 11/27/2012 07:24:41 PM PST

The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday authorized County Counsel to sue the city of San Bernardino for $1.5 million in unpaid landfill service fees.

But first, attorneys for the county will file a motion in U.S. Bankruptcy Court requesting it exempt the unpaid fees from Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection, which the city filed for on Aug. 1, county spokesman David Wert said.

Wert said the city owes the county roughly $1.5 million in tipping fees from trash collected by the city and dumped at the county’s Mid-Valley landfill in Rialto.

But even if the bankruptcy court exempts the uncollected fees from bankruptcy protection, the county could still sue the city if it wants.

“Making the exemption does not compel the city to pay the county, and the county wants to collect those funds because it has an obligation to the taxpayers to do so,” Wert said.

City Attorney James F. Penman called the county’s action “a fist below the belt.”

“The county knows we’re in bankruptcy and can’t afford to pay the fees. If the city had the fees we’d pay them,” Penman said. “This is really kicking us in the teeth when we’re down.”

He said he was having a hard time understanding why the county would take such an action and not keep the city in the loop, as it had promised the city.

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