City of Jackson has no backup plan if Richard’s Disposal stops hauling waste without payment

Next week, both parties will go before a federal magistrate to see if they can reach a settlement.
Published: Aug. 18, 2022 at 10:12 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The city of Jackson still doesn’t have a backup plan as it relates to residential trash pickup.

It’s current provider has collected garbage for about five months without getting paid and could walk away at any time.

Richards Disposal sued the city for not getting paid for its first two months of work, but an ongoing federal court case could determine whether the company gets paid for any work at all.

Thursday, Council President Ashby Foote stood by the council’s decision to not pay a company that says it’s been picking up trash in good faith.

”By the state constitution, we aren’t allowed to pay money unless there’s a valid contract,” he said.

Next week, both parties will go before a federal magistrate to see if they can reach a settlement.

If not…

“It could go on further into a full-fledged trial,” Foote said. “I, for one, and, I think, most of the citizens would like to have this over and finalized, so we can focus on things like the water treatment plant and the crime issues.”

Tuesday, Ward 3 Councilman Kenneth Stokes pressed his colleagues for a ‘plan b’ in case Richard’s breaks ties with the Capital City.

“What do we have planned for the day when the company out of New Orleans says we’re not going to collect garbage any longer?,” Stokes asked.

Councilman Foote answered that question the same way Thursday as he did at Tuesday’s council meeting.

“We don’t have a satisfactory long-term plan because we have a situation where the mayor gave the Richard’s Disposal people notice to proceed and didn’t get the council approval,” he said. “We can’t pay them based on the state constitution, and now, they’re suing the city to get paid.”

Meanwhile, Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said Tuesday that the bidding process is still active but also alluded to the fact that he’s not going to negotiate with another company unless Richard’s stops hauling trash.

“Until the vendor walks away from the table of negotiations, whether he stops in the emergency or not, the RFP is still alive,” he said. “There lies the rub.”

Councilman Stokes fears the lack of a backup plan could put the city at risk of more illegal dumping.

“I represent a lot of poor people. They’re not going to sit there with trash in front of their house, so Public Works, you might as well get ready to clean out the creeks because there’s going to be a lot of trash in the creeks,” Stokes said during Tuesday’s meeting.

If that happens, Foote said he’s prepared to come up with a solution.

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