Trash fees nearly doubling for Jackson ratepayers following city council vote

(WLBT)
Published: Jul. 5, 2022 at 11:49 AM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Trash rates are going up for Jackson residents.

Tuesday, the city council approved raising rates from around $20.80 a month to $37 a month to cover residential trash collections and other disposal services.

It was unclear when the new rates would take effect. Typically, ordinances go into effect 30 days after passage.

The measure was approved on a 4-3 vote. Voting in favor of the measure were Council members Virgi Lindsay, Angelique Lee, Ashby Foote, and Brian Grizzell. Opposed were Councilmen Aaron Banks, Kenneth Stokes, and Vernon Hartley.

The vote comes two weeks after the city’s finance department and solid waste division first brought the proposal to the council at its June 21 meeting.

At the time, Deputy City Attorney Terry Williamson said the increase was needed to make up for rising costs and budget shortfalls in the sanitation division.

“Without this increase, there is simply just not enough money to pay for collections and disposals and also operate the sanitation division,” he said.

According to city documents, “an increase in the user charge is necessary because the current charge is insufficient to pay the cost of the city’s emergency agreement for residential solid waste collection.”

The previous amount would also not be enough to cover the costs of a new solid waste contract, based on the proposals presented to the city earlier this year.

City documents go on to state that without the increase, Jackson would be required to dip into its general fund budget and reserves to keep the solid waste enterprise fund afloat.

The solid waste enterprise fund is generated through solid waste fees, which are added to customers’ monthly water/sewer bills.

For years, though, collections have been off due to complications with the new billing system installed as part of the Siemens contract. The city is also hemorrhaging funds due to increased rates associated with two emergency trash-hauling contracts.

Audits show that solid waste has run a deficit for at least the last five years, from 2016 to 2020. In 2020, the division’s end-of-year deficit was around $2.2 million.

Jackson has used millions of dollars in Siemens settlement funds to help make up for those deficits.

The council last increased residential rates on October 2, 2006, raising the rate from $15.39 per household to $20.80.

Jackson’s waste is currently being picked up by Richard’s Disposal. The company began picking up residential waste on April 1. The mayor had issued the company a notice to proceed to begin the work, despite the contract never being approved by the city council.

The emergency contract is for $15 per home, up from the $10.56 the city was previously charged under its last long-term waste-hauling deal.

So far, Richard’s has not been paid for their services, with the council refusing to pay an $808,000 bill as part of a previous claims docket.

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