Jackson City Council looking to keep trash collections going in anticipation of Supreme Court ruling

A Richard's Disposal employee collects trash in Jackson
A Richard's Disposal employee collects trash in Jackson(Rogelio V. Solis | AP)
Published: Jan. 10, 2023 at 2:20 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The Jackson City Council is looking at legal steps it could take to keep garbage trucks rolling ahead of a Supreme Court ruling that could potentially bring the city’s emergency contract with Richard’s Disposal to an end.

Tuesday, the council directed its independent council to look at strategies to ensure garbage collection continues in anticipation of a high court ruling in the council’s case against Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba.

“The council understands the paramount importance to not have garbage bags pile up on the street,” said attorney Deshun Martin. “They have directed us to do some things to ensure that garbage collection continues.”

The case, which could determine whether the mayor can veto a negative action of the council, will impact whether Richard’s can keep operating in the city under its current emergency contract.

Under terms of a federal court settlement, if justices rule in favor of the council, Richard’s contract will come to an end. If the mayor prevails, Richard’s will continue under its one-year agreement.

The matter was discussed in executive session. Martin wouldn’t go into details about the council’s directives or any potential legal strategy that would be taken.

Council President Ashby Foote also declined to share details, other than to say the council “took action to advise our attorneys on our behalf.”

Martin said Jackson is currently under a federal court order to keep Richard’s in place until a Supreme Court ruling is handed down.

In May, the council filed suit against Lumumba in Hinds County Chancery Court asking if the mayor could veto a negative vote of the city’s legislative body.

Prior to that, the council denied awarding a one-year emergency contract to Richard’s, a move that would have blocked them from picking up trash in the capital city. However, the mayor vetoed that decision, and directed Richard’s to begin work.

The New Orleans-based company took over for Waste Management on April 1.

Special appointed Judge Larry Roberts ruled in favor of the council, and the mayor appealed the matter to the high court.

Through all the legal battles, Richard’s has continued to pick up waste in the city, and filed a suit of its own, seeking back payment for services performed.

The council eventually settled, agreeing to pay Richard’s $4.8 million for back pay. The council also agreed to keep the company on at least until the Supreme Court handed down its ruling.

Provisions state that if the chancery court ruling is upheld, Richard’s will “cease solid waste disposal and garbage collections... at the end of the month in which the ... decision is rendered.”

Martin was not sure when the high court would rule, but said opinions are handed down on Thursdays.

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