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Jackson Garbage Collection to ‘Cease’ Indefinitely, Putting 150,000 Residents At Risk

A view of a white garbage truck labeled Richard's Disposal, Inc, on the side in green
In April 2022, Richard's Disposal began picking up garbage in Jackson, Miss., under a disputed one-year emergency contract signed with Mayor Chokwe A. Lumumba. After receiving no payment from the Jackson City Council, which never approved the agreement, the company announced plans indefinitely suspending operations in the capital city. Photo by Kristin Brenemen

Update: The City of Jackson averted a disruption in garbage collection services after reaching a temporary agreement with Richard’s Disposal, the contractor that handles the services, on Friday, Oct. 7. The original Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022, story is below.

Garbage collection service operations in Jackson are set to “cease” indefinitely in two days after the New Orleans-based Richard’s Disposal announced this afternoon that it is suspending garbage pickup in Mississippi’s capital city starting Saturday.

The company began operation in the city April 1, 2022, amidst legal wrangling between Jackson Mayor Chokwe A. Lumumba and the Jackson City Council on the appropriateness of a one-year emergency garbage disposal contract the mayor signed with the company beginning April 1, 2022. 

The City has not compensated the company for its operations after the City Council declined to pay for its services. Some council members argue that the contract was invalid since they never approved it.

In a Thursday afternoon press release announcing the company’s decision to end garbage pickup operations, the City of Jackson said the move was because the company has operated for six months “under an emergency contract and without compensation.”

“The announcement affects approximately 150,000 residential customers as well as municipal court and other municipal buildings around the city that are being serviced with roll off containers,” the City’s press release continues. 

Working Together Jackson announced a meeting tomorrow “to collaborate on our next steps to avoid another great health crisis after Saturday, ” the organization wrote in an email to members this morning after a conversation with the owner of Richard’s Disposal, Alvin Richard.

“He informed us that he has not been paid for 6 months and that the Council has refused to reach a reasonable agreement with him regarding the Emergency Contract,” the organization wrote. 

In the city’s press release, Lumumba said he “would like to thank Richard’s Disposal, their 70 local employees, and Mr. Alvin Richard for their dedicated service over the past six months.”

“The citizens of Jackson have paid and continue to pay for the solid waste collection, and they have received the services, but due to inaction by the Jackson City Council, my administration is legally unable to pay Richard’s for services rendered,” he added. “My thoughts and prayers are with the 70 local employees and their families who are facing unemployment as we approach the holiday season.”

The city advised residents to use “reusable containers and other sustainable household products and goods, rather than disposables,” freeze “seafood waste until garbage pickup resumes,” and “drop-off all Household Hazardous Waste to 1570 University Boulevard.”

Richard’s Disposal filed a lawsuit against the City in federal court for nonpayment in July. After a special chancery court judge in Hinds County ruled that Mayor Lumumba could not veto the Jackson City Council’s rejection of the contract with Richard’s Disposal, he appealed that ruling to the Mississippi Supreme Court in August.

The Jackson City Council is now involved in negotiations to prevent the loss of garbage pickup services after Saturday.

“I can’t say much right now because we’re involved in some negotiations trying to make sure that the city has garbage pickup starting on Monday,” City Council President and Ward 1 Councilman Ashby Foote told the Mississippi Free Press Thursday evening. “There are a lot of details, but I can’t really go into them at this point in time. I don’t want to jeopardize the negotiations.”

“I’m hoping that we’ll have something resolved in the next 48 hours,” he added.

The garbage collection problems come on the heels of a September 2022 water crisis in which Jackson residents went for weeks without access to clean, running water.

This is a developing story. It will be updated.

You can read more of our reporting on the Jackson garbage issue dating back to September 2021 here.

 

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