Jackson’s mayor says he wants to take city’s trash dispute to the people

Richard's Disposal truck
Richard's Disposal truck(WLBT)
Published: Sep. 12, 2022 at 4:14 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - If the mayor has his way, Jackson residents could soon have a say in who hauls their trash.

Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said he would like to have a ballot referendum to determine who will provide residential trash collections to the capital city.

During a press conference on Monday, he said he made the recommendation to Richard’s Disposal as part of ongoing legal negotiations with the firm.

“I told you when I came into office that ‘when I become mayor, you become mayor,’ and there is no one that has a greater stake in the success of trash collections than the residents of Jackson,” he said. “And so, I believe that if we give them an opportunity for their voice to be heard, then we can come to the answer.”

The New Orleans-based Richard’s is suing the city for two months’ worth of trash collection charges, or approximately $1.6 million. The firm began collecting waste on April 1, despite not having a contract approved by the city council.

Since then, the company has continued to pick up trash but has not been paid. A settlement conference was held on September 1, according to federal court filings, but it was unclear if any settlement had been reached.

“Our legal department has looked up the requisite statute that states its legality, and she has been in conversations with the state auditor’s department to make certain that there are no issues there,” the mayor said. “We’ve done our homework to make sure that it’s something that we can do, and I don’t think that any of us should be fearful of what the residents have to say.”

We are still trying to find more details regarding the mayor’s statements.

Richard’s filed suit against the city in July in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi. The council filed a cross-claim, saying the mayor brought the firm on without the council’s consent, and therefore should be the one to pay them.

The council rejected hiring Richard’s on at least four occasions. Lumumba vetoed those votes, but in July, a judge ruled the mayor could not veto a negative of the city’s legislative body. The mayor has appealed that decision to the Mississippi Supreme Court.

Council President Ashby Foote was not immediately available for comment.

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