Following the City of Jackson council’s rejection of Richard’s Disposal as the garbage-disposal contractor for the capital city on both Jan. 18, 2022, and Feb. 1, 2022, Mayor Chokwe A. Lumumba announced yesterday that the city plans for a one-year garbage-disposal emergency contract with the company, contingent on the council’s approval.
For over 30 years, Waste Management, Inc., has been the garbage-disposal contractor for Jackson. After the council twice rejected FCC Environmental Services as the contractor last year, Waste Management began running a six-month garbage-disposal contract to last till March 31, 2022, six weeks away.
“(I)n order to combat the dangers to the public health that will arise if residential garbage remains uncollected for six months or longer, while the City attempts to procure a contract for the collection of residential solid waste in accordance with Section 31-7-13 (r), the Mayor intends to contract on an emergency basis with Richard’s Disposal, Inc. for the collection of residential solid waste beginning on April 1, 2022, continuing for period of one year or the procurement of a permanent contract complying with the requirements of Section 31-7-13 (r),” Lumumba wrote in the Feb. 17 order.
The council not only twice rejected Richard’s Disposal contract, it also removed the order from its schedule at a special meeting on Feb. 4, 2022, and the mayor also removed it from the agenda at another special council meeting on Feb. 10, 2022.
A press release accompanying the declaration of local emergency detailed that the move is to prevent an environmental crisis and noted that a majority of the Jackson City Council has voted against Richard’s Disposal, “who won the bidding process in accordance with the law,” and that the city council has “provided no reasonable or compelling reasons for doing so.”
“The refusal to approve the top-rated contract puts the City in legal jeopardy,” the press release continues.
“It is unfortunate we are at this point,” the mayor said. “My administration has worked overtime to explain every step of the process in what is normally a routine contract-bidding process.”
“There’s no dispute that Richard’s won fair and square and would also save the City millions of dollars over the course of the contract, retain twice-a-week pickup with a cart and bring good-paying jobs to Jackson,” he added. “The only question now is how much legal exposure the City could face.”
Some council members on Feb. 1, 2022, objected to the inclusion of 90-gallon-carts for each household in the contract, which they said could cause complications, and discussed the fact that Richard’s Disposal scored the lowest in technical appraisals.
If the city council approves the new emergency contract at its next meeting, it will launch on April 1 and last for one calendar year or until a permanent contract is approved.
This decision will mark another phase in the city’s garbage-contract impasse, which last year saw the mayor and the city council facing off at the Hinds County Chancery Court, where Judge Tiffany Grove dismissed the Jackson City Council’s case against the mayor, after parties reached an agreement to extend Waste Management service for another six months.
At that time, the council requested that the court approve its move to have a one-month garbage-disposal contract with Waste Management for October 2021.
The emergency order that the mayor signed Thursday included references to the dire consequences of unpicked garbage.
“(B)eginning April 1, 2022, the City will have no means by which to collect garbage from residences throughout the City, which garbage, if uncollected for the period of time that will be required to procure a permanent contract in accordance with Section 31-7-13 (r), will create throughout the City a risk of disease and cause unsanitary conditions contrary to the public health,” the mayor wrote.
“(T)he failure to collect garbage and properly dispose of it at a permitted landfill will result in putrid, rotting food and other deleterious contaminants flowing into the City’s municipal separate storm sewer system, which will cause water pollution to local creeks, streams, and waterways, including, but not limited to the Pearl River and Bogue Chitto Creek,” the statement asserted.
Mayor Lumumba concluded by addressing the potential legal and financial risks.
“(T)he failure to fulfill its statutory duty to properly collect and dispose of residential solid waste will expose the City to the risk of civil penalties at the rate of up to $25,000 each day residential solid waste remains uncollected and to other legal action by the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality.”