JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – The City of Jackson is in the final days of the current Waste Management contract, and no agreement has been met. The Waste Management contract officially expires on Thursday at midnight, leaving the city with no waste collection by the weekend.
During a brief city council meeting earlier Wednesday, council members approved Mayor Chokwe A. Lumumba’s request to seek his legal counsel. On Thursday, the debate will be presented in front of a judge.
The City Council is hopeful this will bring us one step closer to a solution to this ongoing problem.
Thirteen days before the end of the Waste Management contract, Lumumba announced a local emergency after failed negotiations.
“You don’t come in here and exploit us and think you can get whatever you want,” he said.
Two key reasons for the issues with Waste Management were unsatisfactory service and mistreatment of sanitation workers, according to the mayor.
“We’re seeing and hearing that one person is on the back of the truck sometimes carrying 18 tons by themselves, so you’re literally abusing your body with no protections,” said Lumumba.
This comes after the mayor’s preferred replacement company FCC was legally suspended from the bidding process for a year.
Councilman Aaron Banks said, “Based on state law, whenever a company has been put up and has failed twice, then they can’t bid on it for a year.”
Following the local emergency declaration, the mayor proposed a local company that would cost the city upwards of $1.5 million. In a split decision, city council members ruled the proposal financially infeasible and overturned the mayor’s emergency declaration.
Lumumba said the council nullified the administration’s declaration of emergency only for two business days later to establish its own local emergency.
Following the council’s declaration of a local emergency, Waste Management issued a proposal to provide emergency service to the city for an additional 30 days. However, the mayor holds his position on discontinuing the agreement with Waste Management regardless of the risk of a $25,000 per day fine from the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ).
Banks said the mayor has refused to take any action, and the City Council’s actions will allow the council president to execute the emergency agreement, while the mayor would take the opportunity according to his executive authority to reissue a RFP.
The hearing will take place at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, September 30 at the Hinds County Chancery Court.
If the judge favors the side of the City Council, the decision may allow City Council President Virgi Lindsay to arrange an agreement with Waste Management for the 30-day extension. As of now, city leaders are still unsure of the outcome because this is an extremely rare case.