‘Meter is running’: Fines mounting for city, 12 days into garbage crisis

Published: Apr. 12, 2023 at 5:52 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Fines likely are already mounting for Jackson, 12 days after residential trash collections in the city came to an end.

“The exact words [were] that ‘the meter is running,’” Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said. “The exact words are that we could be assessed up to $25,000 per violation.”

Lumumba shared the news about potential fines at a special called meeting of the city council Wednesday afternoon.

The council met after the mayor consulted with officials from the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) over the city’s trash crisis.

[READ: ‘Disappointing day’: Council rejects one-year agreement with Richard’s; still no trash collection in Jackson]

His comments also came after Council Vice President Angelique Lee said the city had already accumulated fines of $900,000 for failing to pick up residents’ trash.

“We’ve got people depending on us to be the leaders and one of the things I’m worried about is this fine that we’re getting,” Lee said. “We thought it was $25,000 a day, it’s now $75,000 a day and we owe $900,000 currently because we don’t have trash picked up.”

MDEQ sent a notice of violation to the city on April 7. The letter stated that the temporary drop-off sites to take residents’ garbage was not adequate to meet Jackson’s solid waste needs.

The executive director urged the mayor to modify its solid waste plan to possibly include drop-off bins in each ward.

Lumumba said he was unclear how much the city had been fined, saying MDEQ had not notified his office of an amount.

“There has been no letter sent. It may not be that amount. So, I don’t want at any point to say that we actually represented this to you,” he said. “It could actually be... theoretically be more than that because a violation can be trash put on every curb per household. And so that would be an untold number of what our violation would be.”

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