Council announces settlement with Richard’s Disposal; trash pick up will continue in Jackson

Published: Oct. 7, 2022 at 4:42 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Richard’s Disposal will continue to pick up trash in Jackson, at least temporarily, after the city council announces a settlement to the company’s lawsuit.

Friday, council atyorneys announced the city would pay Richard’s more than $4.8 million for the work the firm has already done in Jackson.

They also said Jackson would keep on Richard’s at least until the Mississippi Supreme Court rules in the council’s case against the mayor regarding veto powers.

“We still have some work to do, but the major point is they will pick up trash until the Supreme Court rules,” said John Scanlon, an attorney representing the Jackson City Council.

Among concerns, city council members must determine where they will find the money to pay the settlement, and whether the amount will be paid in a lump sum or installments.

Council President Ashby Foote said he wasn’t sure where that funding would come from, saying it would be discussed at the city council meeting next week.

The council also is working on plans to continue service once Richard’s term of service is up. As part of the decision, the firm will stay on in the capital city until the Mississippi Supreme Court rules in a related case regarding the mayor’s veto ability.

“What Richard’s wanted was to stay on board, provided they got paid for the six months they hadn’t been paid for, so we agreed to pay them,” Foote said. “Then, they wanted to stay on at least until the Supreme Court decision. There were a lot of different parties involved in coming to that decision. And, so, where we go from there is still being negotiated, so I can’t really go into that.”

The news comes a day after the New Orleans-based firm announced that it would stop picking up residential trash in the city after Saturday, saying it could no longer afford to do so. It also comes months after the same firm filed suit in federal court seeking payment for services provided.

The company took over collections in the capital city on April 1, under a one-year emergency contract. Since then, the company has not been paid.

The council refused to pay, saying it never approved a contract with the company, and that, based on information provided by the Mississippi State Auditor’s Office, it could not pay a company for work that was never agreed to.

Scanlon said while the council could not legally pay for the contract, it could authorize payments to settle lawsuits brought against the city.

As of Friday afternoon, the settlement agreement still had to be signed off on by the magistrate judge involved in the case. It also has to be voted on by the council and signed by the mayor.

The city council also will have to approve a contract allowing Richard’s to continue work until the Supreme Court rules.

Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba recently appealed a lower court’s ruling to the Supreme Court, after the lower court ruled he could not veto a negative vote of the council. Lumumba relied on a now-vacated court decision saying he could hypothetically veto a negative action and then challenge that veto in the court system.

Scanlon was unsure what a temporary contract with Richard’s would look like but said the company likely would be paid the same amount it is currently billing the city, around $808,000 a month.

Foote, meanwhile, says the city can now turn its attention to other challenges, like water and sewer. “[This is] a victory for the citizens of Jackson,” he said. “That’s really what this business is all about, the citizens of Jackson.”

Officials representing Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba declined to comment.

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