Council wants twice-a-week trash pickups to continue in Jackson

Jackson city council
Jackson city council(WLBT)
Published: Jan. 11, 2022 at 1:08 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Members of the Jackson City Council want to continue garbage collections twice a week in the city.

Tuesday, the council voted 5-2 to recommend that the mayor negotiate the waste-hauling contract of his choice, as long as that contract is for twice-a-week pickup services.

Generally, council members were not concerned whether the option requires residents to have a special 96-gallon garbage can.

The vote came after more than an hour of discussion, which sometimes got heated.

However, the council’s desire to continue twice-weekly pickups was known early on.

“We want twice-a-week service. Whether or not we have to have a can, we don’t care,” said Ward 2 Councilwoman Angelique Lee, referring to residents in her ward. “We definitely want twice-a-week service.”

Council members were asked to vote on a non-binding resolution to recommend that the mayor negotiate one of four proposals for residential collection services.

Options included two proposals for once-a-week collections and two proposals for twice a week. Two proposals required residents to have a special garbage can, that would initially be provided to residents a garbage can that the administration said would be free of charge.

Minutes into the debate, Ward 6 Councilman Aaron Banks made a motion to amend the request, striking all once-a-week options from consideration.

He also made a motion that the mayor consider either of the twice-a-week options and bring back his selection to the council.

The council approved the amended resolution of a 5-2 vote.

Voting against the measure were Ward One Councilman Ashby Foote and Ward Three Councilman Kenneth Stokes.

Stokes and Foote appeared to agree on the fact that neither wanted to require residents to have a special can, a 96-gallon trash cart.

Stokes made a motion to authorize the mayor to negotiate with the bidder for the lowest price of the twice-a-week option without a cart, but the motion died for a lack of a second.

For his part, Foote said the price of the can was likely included in the vendor’s bid.

“What worries me is the way we write the RFP results in the vendor (taking) into account the liabilities we give them,” Foote said. “If a cart’s lost, you’ve got to replace it. They have to price the uncertainty of where these carts may disappear. This 96-gallon cart costs around $95.”

Under terms of the RFP, vendors would provide each home with a 96-gallon trash cart. The vendor also would be responsible for replacing that cart free of charge if the cart is damaged or lost at no fault of the owner.

Foote said the cost for those carts would be built into the city’s cost. “We can have a lot lower rates for garbage pickup if we just tell citizens you have to (buy) your own cart,” he said.

Foote referred to the previous proposal from FCC Environmental Services, which was going to charge the city an additional $3.2 million for carts in addition to its monthly pickup rates.

City Attorney Catoria Martin countered Foote’s argument, saying the twice-a-week option requiring a cart was cheaper than the city’s current emergency contract to haul waste.

It also is cheaper than the twice-a-week option that requires no cart that was received under the current RFP.

Jackson is currently in a six-month emergency contract with Waste Management, which is hauling trash at a little more than $800,000 a month.

The twice-a-week option requiring a cart would be around $756,000 monthly, documents show. By comparison, the twice-a-week option without the cart would be around $858,000 a month.

Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said the city said the council should look at more than just price, saying that having a cart would make the work easier for hoppers.

Hoppers are the workers who ride the back of garbage trucks and collect waste. With special carts, the trucks would be able to pick up the cans with a special arm, making the job easier.

“The significant difference is how they use technology with those carts, which help wear and tear on their body,” he said. “That is an important factor to look at here.”

Banks, meanwhile, commended the mayor for involving the council in the RFP process but said he should make the ultimate decision.

Last year, the council twice rejected Lumumba’s proposal to hire FCC Environmental Services, saying, in part, saying they wanted more transparency in the RFP process.

They also were opposed to the fact that the contract would have required the city to raise rates, while at the same time reducing residential pickups to once a week.

Others, like Councilman Stokes, have also raised concerns that the administration was attempting to “fix” the RFP process to ensure a certain contractor received a bid.

This time around, the RFPs were evaluated through a blind bid process.

After the city failed to bring on FCC and after negotiations with other respondents broke down, the city issued a new request for proposals in October.

Bids were received in November, but names of the companies were not released to the RFP evaluation committee or to the public until the technical evaluations wrapped up.

The resolution that was taken to the council Tuesday only included the proposal, the scores of the proposals submitted, and the price of the highest-scoring RFP.

“I’ve never seen a mayor do it like this, to give the council the opportunity to be involved in the process... But there is a lot of technical stuff that the committee knows that we’re not privy to,” he said. “We have narrowed it down to twice a week, and it’s back in your hands to deal with.”

Banks then motioned that the city council return the recommendation to the mayor as it was amended and allow the evaluation team to make its selection “based on technical points, based on pricing and (based on) what is most advantageous for citizens.”

It was not known when the mayor will bring a recommendation to the council. Initially, the administration had hoped to bring a contract to the city in early January. However, those plans were stalled by COVID-19.

The city’s current contract with Waste Management expires on March 30.

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