Canton Municipal Utilities is seeking more than $5 million and full ownership of Beattie’s Bluff Wastewater Treatment Facility in a counterclaim filed against the Madison County Wastewater Authority (MCWA) last month.

MCWA filed suit in February in circuit court against CMU seeking $2.2 million in depreciation costs they say were wrongfully charged since 2004. CMU responded on March 29.  

The depreciation costs, which are essentially passed on to ratepayers in Madison, Bear Creek, Pearl River Valley Water Supply District and other county utility districts, have been in question since 2017 when MCWA hired attorney David Mockbee to investigate.  

The Wastewater Authority pays CMU to provide transportation and treatment of its wastewater at the Beattie’s Bluff Wastewater Treatment Facility, which is owned by both entities.  

In February, MCWA filed suit against CMU claiming they were not supposed to charge depreciation costs for CMU’s one-half interest in the Beattie’s Bluff Facility.  

At the end of March, CMU responded to MCWA’s suit and filed a countersuit of their own.

CMU, in its response, asserts that generally accepted accounting practices allow for depreciation charges and depreciation was limited to CMU’s property.  

MCWA also claimed in its original filing that CMU had not paid yearly $5,000 lease payments totaling nearly $70,000. CMU responded that the lease agreement is with Madison County and not the Wastewater Authority and it was unaware of any transfer of title.

CMU argues in its counterclaim that a 2004 agreement between Madison County and CMU to give property and an interest in Beattie’s Bluff to MCWA was illegal, violated public policy, and were “unconscionable.”

A followup agreement in September 2005, which CMU argues was done to memorialize the 2004 deal, is also said by the utility to be illegal.  

“CMU demands MCWA relinquish claim to all property and assignment interests obtained as a result of void or illegal contracts, or payment of $9,505,003 for the one-half interest in Beattie’s Bluff and the Virlilia Road Interceptor,” the suit reads.  

CMU is also seeking $4,009,673 it says is owed in past expenses that MCWA did not pay for services in violation of their agreement. CMU is also seeking $793,614 they say was taken from CMU to pay for MCWA’s loans.

In addition to the amounts listed, CMU is seeking damages “to be determined” for failing to pay for an eight-year tie-in to a main line on Highway 22, for using CMU grant money for MCWA expenses, and for wrongfully denying depreciation costs in 2017.

“As a result of MCWA’s conduct and the agreements at issue, CMU seeks recovery of all available damages,” the countersuit states. “