Will Jackson have trash pickup come April 1? Today’s council meeting could determine that.

Richard's Disposal employees load up a trash truck on Friday, Oct. 7, 2022, in Jackson, Miss.
Richard's Disposal employees load up a trash truck on Friday, Oct. 7, 2022, in Jackson, Miss.(Rogelio V. Solis | AP)
Published: Mar. 30, 2023 at 9:34 AM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - A special city council meeting Thursday afternoon will likely determine whether customers in the capital city will have their trash picked up come Saturday.

Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba has called a special meeting of the Jackson City Council for 3 p.m., Thursday, March 30 at City Hall.

The meeting includes just one agenda item, a request from the mayor to approve a six-year contract with Richard’s Disposal, and comes just one day before the city’s emergency contract with that firm expires.

Whether the council will approve Richard’s remains to be seen. Members have rejected bringing on the New Orleans-based company multiple times in the last year.

But as the deadline for a new trash-pickup contract looms, the mayor has stepped up his efforts to push through the agreement.

On Wednesday, a post on the city’s Facebook page tells customers what would happen if a contractor is not selected by March 31.

According to that post, if the council rejects Richard’s, “collection will end on April 1 and trash will pile up until a solution is reached.”

The city goes on to state that if the RFP process has to begin again, “trash will pile up for no less than 90 days while a new RFP process runs its course.”

An RFP is a request for proposals. Cities issue RFPs to seek proposals from companies for professional services, such as garbage collection.

The city’s social media comments came the same afternoon Lumumba called the special council meeting. In a press release announcing the meeting, he said “a no vote against [Richard’s] is a vote against trash collection in the city of Jackson.”

Another post on Jackson’s official government page on Monday questions why the council has rejected Richard’s, saying it had voted down “every contractor that was not Waste Management.”

Waste Management had been providing trash collection in the city for years. Their last contract ended on March 31, 2022.

The mayor and council have been at odds over who picks up Jackson residents’ trash since early 2022 when members first voted Richard’s down.

At a press conference this week, Council President Ashby Foote argued Richard’s isn’t the best qualified, saying its proposal scored lowest in every aspect but price during the evaluation process.

Proposals submitted during the RFP process are evaluated by a team that looks at everything from cost to experience.

“This really is a best and lowest competition. The mayor has chosen to just focus on price and nothing else,” Foote said. “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.”

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

As part of the October 2021 RFP, price accounted for 35 percent of the total score. With price included, Richard’s edged out the second-best proposal for twice-a-week collections with a cart.

A cart is a special 96-gallon garbage bin that customers would be required to use if the contract was approved.

Jackson trash timeline:

  • October 2021 - City issues RFP for garbage collections, second one in two years.
  • January 18, 2022 - City Council rejects motion to hire Richard’s Disposal on 4-2-1 vote.
  • February 1, 2022 - Council again rejects Richard’s, but on a closer 3-3-1 vote.
  • February 17, 2022 - Mayor declares state of emergency over trash pickup, citing council’s rejection of Richard’s contract; states intention of hiring Richard’s for one-year emergency contract.
  • March 8, 2022 - Council twice rejects emergency contract with Richard’s, rescinds mayor’s emergency order.
  • March 9, 2022 - Mayor files suit against city council in Hinds County Chancery Court.
  • March 28, 2022 - Richard’s Disposal trucks seen coming into capital city.
  • March 31, 2022 - Judge Jess Dickinson rules only the mayor has the ability to negotiate and execute contracts, but council must sign off on it for it to be official. Includes footnote in order saying the mayor could hypothetically veto the council’s rejection of a contract and sue them in court.
  • April 1, 2022 - Council rejects Richard’s emergency contract twice; mayor vetoes, citing March 31 ruling.
  • April 1, 2022 - Dickinson vacates previous ruling; says he should not have included footnote.
  • May 12, 2022 - Council files suit against mayor, asking judge whether he can veto a council no vote.
  • July 13, 2022 - Richard’s Disposal sues city for lack of payment; seeks $1.6 million in back pay.
  • July 15, 2022 - Judge Larry Roberts rules in favor of the council, says mayor cannot veto negative vote.
  • August 26, 2022 - Lumumba appeals Roberts’ decision to Mississippi Supreme Court.
  • October 7, 2022 - City settles suit with Richard’s; agrees to pay $4.8 million in back pay and keep company in place until Supreme Court rules on veto case.
  • February 1, 2023 - Council files another suit in Hinds County Chancery Court, seeking permission to move forward in hiring trash-hauling contractor after mayor refuses to act.
  • March 9, 2023 - Mississippi’s High Court affirms lower court’s ruling in favor of city council; Richard’s to stay on until end of the month. Contract already slated to end on March 31.

While winning that twice-a-week option with carts, the company was edged out on the twice-a-week option that did not require them. That proposal was won by Waste Management. However, Lumumba has refused to bring that proposal to the council even after members rejected Richard’s.

The mayor argues Richard’s is qualified to do the work and that their price will save the city tens of millions of dollars over time, including $4.3 million over the next year when compared to its closest competitor.

Contractor 2x a week with carts cost per company
Richard’s$756,000 a month
Waste Management$1,116,720 a month*
FCC Environmental Services$1,123,342.09 a month*
*Companies say 2021 prices no longer being honored.

“We are prayerful that the fight over the city’s garbage collection will end this week,” Jackson’s Facebook page stated. “Never wanting to add to the financial burden of our residents... we plan to choose the most economical option for the people of Jackson.”

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