Mayor Lumumba states his case for referendum on Jackson’s garbage collection contract; attorney says that option is illegal

Published: Sep. 22, 2022 at 10:33 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The future of trash pickup in Jackson remains in limbo.

Since April, Richard’s Disposal has been collecting trash.

So far, the company still hasn’t been paid. Some council members say it’s because they were never awarded a valid contract.

Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba first introduced Richard’s Disposal earlier this year.

He said one reason he’s in favor of the company is because it’s $12 million cheaper than Waste Management, which is the company previously in charge of picking up trash.

Some council members are against the company and against giving the company an emergency contract, leading to both parties taking the issue to court.

Tired of the back and forth, Mayor Lumumba proposes a new option to determine who will be in charge of trash collection.

He wants to have a ballot referendum, allowing residents to decide which company they want.

“I don’t see how any elected official could have a problem allowing the residents to weigh in and make their voice clear,” the mayor said. “We were all elected by the people, so we should trust the people to make the best decisions for their interests.”

However, attorney Deshun Martin, who represents the city council, said putting this item on a referendum is not legal.”

There is no viable way in state law to give a bidding vendor an opportunity to be selected via popular referendum, it’s just not there,” said Martin. “There’s no legally viable option to do that in state law.”

Martin said the only way a company can be awarded a contract is for it to get a majority vote from the Jackson city council.

”Mind you, no vote of the council ever gave authority to bind the citizens of the city of Jackson to Richard’s, ever,” said Martin.

Meanwhile, the mayor said he’s checked on the legality of putting this on a referendum and expressed that it is perfectly legal.

”He’s looking for a way out, and there is no way but through the council,” said Martin.

”The court won’t allow us to reach any agreement that is illegal,” said Lumumba. “The court will do its own homework. So, for someone to summarily dismiss that as being illegal is just a way of avoiding actually allowing the people to put it towards a referendum.”

Now when it comes to where things currently stand with the emergency contract, it expires in roughly six months.

At this time, the council is seeking an expedited decision that could determine whether the mayor has the power to veto a no-vote.

Martin said they hope to have a decision on that at the end of this year or early next year.

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