Council president says trash pickup is on the mayor: ‘The ball’s in his court’

Published: Mar. 27, 2023 at 6:16 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The back-and-forth between city leaders continue in an argument over who will haul residents’ garbage come April 1.

At a press conference on Monday, Council President Ashby Foote says if trash begins to pile up, it can be blamed on the mayor.

“He’s the executive. He’s got to get four votes,” he said. “He wants to come out and make the case, he’s welcome to do that. But it’s his obligation to get four votes for a vendor.”

In a statement, Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said he stands by his decision to recommend Richard’s Disposal, saying it’s the best option for the city of Jackson.

“The bottom line is that we intend to support what is in the best interest of our residents,” he said. “Richard’s continues to prove it can do the job in trying circumstances.”

Richard’s Disposal took over garbage collections on April 1 under an emergency contract that was never approved by the council.

That contract expires on March 31, with no one waiting in the wings to take over.

Foote says it’s the mayor’s responsibility to bring the council a new option to consider – one that can garner a majority vote from the council.

“You go back a year ago, we voted down Richard’s numerous times. And there was the opportunity to bring up one of the other vendors,” Foote said. “He chose not to do that. He chose to abandon the RFP and give Richard’s a contract.”

An RFP is a request for proposals. Cities issue these requests when seeking out professional services, like trash hauling.

Richard’s was one of three firms that responded to the October 2021 RFP for garbage collections.

The New Orleans-based service provider received top scores for a proposal to provide twice-a-week trash collections that required customers to have a special 96-gallon trash can.

Foote questioned the RFP process, saying the mayor did not choose the lowest and best bidder, but the bidder based on the lowest price.

“This really is a best and lowest competition. The mayor has chosen to just focus on price and nothing else,” he said. “But we think that’s a mistake. And that’s where we really... the majority of the council has differed with the mayor on that particular point.”

City documents show Richard’s received the top score for the twice-a-week option with arts, but only after cost was factored in.

How did each company score?FCC EnvironmentalRichard’s DisposalWaste Management
2x a week with no cart56.446.826.62
2x a week with no cart, score for cost included80.5481.884.02
2x a week with cart56.446.857.4
2x a week with cart, score for cost included79.9581.881.09

The company got the lowest marks of the three respondents in the areas of innovative approach, plan for performing, experience, qualifications of personnel, references and Equal Business Opportunity plan.

“I’m not trying to run them down at all, but we have had lots of complaints. We’ve had neighborhoods that have had once-a-week pickup... since November... the people have learned to live with it and leave their garbage out an extra day if it doesn’t get picked up,” he said. “That goes back to the resources and experience they’ve got.”

WLBT reached out to Richard’s corporate office, but was unable to leave a voice message.

Proposals were submitted to the city and then evaluated during a blind process.

Lumumba says he stands with the conclusions of that committee, and counters Foote’s claim, saying Richard’s was the “most affordable bidder on any of the garbage collection options presented.”

“I have no personal benefit from the selection of Richard’s as the top vendor in the evaluation process,” he said. “I remind residents that FCC International was also voted down by this council despite being selected as the top-rated vendor.”

FCC is FCC Environmental Services. The company received the highest scores during the evaluation on the RFP issued prior to October 2021. However, the council rejected that proposal because they didn’t want once-a-week pickups.

Lumumba says the administration reached out to the council to move the process forward, but a letter to Council President Foote was not answered.

Foote says the council wants to see a contract 24 hours prior to voting on it. He said a letter was sent to the mayor stating that, but the mayor did not agree to do so.

“I don’t know what the mayor is going to do in the next four, four and a half days,” he said. “He’s told us he is going to bring something to us, but he has not given us a notice of a date... The ball’s in his court.”

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