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Crisis averted: Agreement reached to extend Jackson trash pickup for next six months

Published: Sep. 30, 2021 at 11:48 AM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Jackson residents will have trash pick up, at least for the next six months.

Thursday, the Jackson City Council and Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba reached an agreement to drop a lawsuit on the impending expiration of the city’s trash collection and enter into a new six-month agreement with Waste Management to continue residential pickups.

The council approved the resolution, which will pave way for the mayor to implement the roughly $5.4 million agreement, at a special called meeting Thursday. The council also voted to rescind the state of emergency that the seven-member body put in place Monday.

The moves come after the council’s suit against the mayor was dropped and the mayor, the council, and Waste Management worked out details of an agreement.

“The mayor was ready to negotiate and an agreement was reached,” Ward One Councilman Ashby Foote said.

Voting in favor of both measures were Councilmembers Virgi Lindsay, Foote, Angelique Lee, Vernon Hartley, Brian Grizzell, and Aaron Banks. Ward Three Councilman Kenneth Stokes abstained on both.

Under terms, the contract will be for six months, with the city paying around $10.56 per home for the first month (October) and $15 per residential unit for each month after that. Waste Management will charge that amount on 53,869 units. Those rates will be passed on to homeowners and renters.

Waste Management previously offered to continue twice-a-week collection services for around $13 per household as part of a six-year proposal during contract negotiations in August.

The contract will go into effect Friday, October 1, the day after the firm’s current obligation expires.

“Essentially, it will be at the same terms of service that (are in) the contract that would expire today,” Lumumba said at the council meeting. “The administration will immediately go forward with the RFP process.”

An RFP is a request for proposals. The city typically issues a request for proposals when seeking city services from outside contractors. The process to advertise for proposals, receive and review them and choose a contractor can take months.

The deal is reached days after the council filed suit against the mayor, saying he had “abdicated” his responsibilities in presenting them with a waste-hauling contract.

Attorneys for the council claimed the mayor had not brought forth any contract for the council to consider for garbage pickup, despite the fact that the city’s current deal with Waste Management expires on September 30. They also say that the mayor did not inform members that he was moving forward on an emergency deal with National Waste United.

For his part, the mayor said he never abdicated his duties and said he was blocked by the council and by Waste Management. The council twice voted down Lumumba’s proposal to bring on FCC Environmental Services.

And, he said, Waste Management attempted to “strong-arm” the city into accepting a six-year deal for garbage pickup when the administration also requested a one-year option.

Monday, the council issued a new state of emergency and hired Waste Management for a one-month emergency contract. The council then filed suit in Hinds County Chancery Court seeking a declaratory judgment to determine whether the council’s actions were lawful.

On Thursday the council and mayor asked for the case to be dismissed and were in discussions prior to the 9 a.m. hearing.

The Jackson City Council has approved an order ending its litigation against the mayor and...
The Jackson City Council has approved an order ending its litigation against the mayor and enter into a new temporary garbage collection contract with Waste Management.(Special to WLBT)

As part of the resolution agreeing to the settlement, the council rescinded its previous state of emergency and acknowledged “there was no offer for a contract term of less than six years from Waste Management.”

Last week, Council President Virgi Lindsay previously said Waste Management had agreed to extend pick-up services for at least 30 days at its current contracted rate.

However, the mayor has claimed time and again he never saw that agreement and only learned about it from the media.

The council also agreed to acknowledge that the mayor is responsible for advertising and negotiating contracts for solid waste services.

Also according to the council resolution, the suit was dismissed without prejudice and without Judge Tiffany Grove ruling on the merits.

“I’m just so happy that we’ve come to a resolution,” said Lee, who represents Ward 2. “The people that really win are those who will have garbage collection back in service tomorrow.”

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