June 6, 2012
By: John Clark
A major recycling company in Georgia filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy this week in an effort to stop its county’s efforts to evict the company from its current location, according to a report from the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
The Ball Ground Recycling plant in Georgia’s Cherokee County reportedly hopes that it will be able to stay open for business during its bankruptcy case, but local taxpayers are angry about what they perceive as preferential treatment for the plant, according to the report.
Back in 2005, the owner of the company, Jimmy Bobo, formed a partnership with the County Board of Commissioners, which sold $18.1 million worth of bonds to help fund Ball Ground’s move away from a location where neighbors had complained about noise and pollution.
The plant apparently grinds up wood and stumps and recycles them into landscape mulch, which is reportedly a lucrative business. At the time of the healthy loan from the county, Ball Ground employed up to 100 people and the recycling business was booming as the county experienced a record increase in new construction projects.
But the company soon experienced growing pains when the recession struck, and by 2009 it was in deep financial trouble. The company’s financial collapse left the company unable to pay its bond payments back to the city, which resulted in taxpayers losing roughly $100,000 a month.
All told, the company reportedly owes the county about $1.7 million. This debt accounts for most of the company’s need for the bankruptcy filing. The next largest creditor is an independent auditor that has placed a $20,000 claim in the bankruptcy filing.
Before Ball Ground filed for bankruptcy, the county gave it a 10-day eviction notice. The terms of the notice require the company to pay the county $60,000 or leave the property. Sources say that the chairman of the Board of Commissioners personally delivered the notice to Jimmy Bobo.
In response to the public outcry and the county’s demands, Bobo has tried to drum up some sympathy by observing that he’s also “upside down on my mortgage, like a lot of people.”
But the public likely has little sympathy, given the financial boondoggle created by the county’s massive loan to the struggling recycling company.
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