Jackson continues to be without a trash collection contractor after the city council voted down an order to issue an emergency contract to Richard’s Disposal during Wednesday’s meeting.
City council members evenly split the vote on two items of the agenda that would continue the declared local state of emergency regarding residential solid waste collection and award a one-year contract to Richard’s Disposal.
Those voting in favor of both items were Brian Grizzell, Angelique Lee, and Virgi Lindsay, with Council President Ashby Foote, Vernon Hartley, and Aaron Banks voting in opposition. Councilman Kenneth Stokes was not in attendance.
The proposed emergency contracts follow a meeting the Jackson City Council had with the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) several hours prior, which was intended to address the notice of violation sent to the city on Friday.
The letter stated that despite the capital city’s efforts to establish temporary trash drop-off locations at the former Metrocenter Mall and the Class I Rubbish Site in Byram, there is still a large amount of uncollected garbage in all seven wards.
“These observations revealed that garbage and other solid waste has been dumped, stored, stockpiled, and otherwise placed curbside and in streets by residents of the city,” MDEQ Executive Director Chris Wells said. “These conditions are a result of the lack of adequate collection and disposal services being provided.”
Wells added that Jackson officials are expected to provide adequate trash collection services to all residents immediately or face a fine of up to $25,000 a day.
“MDEQ requests that the city take all reasonable action and prudent actions to reestablish curbside solid waste collection as stipulated by the city’s Solid Waste Management Plan and provide for adequate garbage collection as required by state law,” Wells added. “MDEQ insists that the city immediately submit a revised ‘Solid Waste Collection Action Plan,’ which proposes adequate, temporary solid waste collection services to the city as required by Miss. Code.”
Since then, council members have convened each day to attempt to come to an agreement on a solution to the city’s lack of solid garbage disposal services and avoid the mounting fees.
Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba stated that officials with the MDEQ informed council members that the city cannot add more dumpsters in each ward to meet state code.
“The conversation with MDEQ was one where they said, ‘Theoretically, I can’t tell you that the city can’t meet its MDEQ requirements by simply putting out dumpsters,'” Lumumba said. “But he said, ‘Practically, it’s not realistic. Of a city this size, you cannot practically do that.'”
Lumumba added that the city does not have the resources needed to provide its own trash pickup service or increase any current garbage drop-off efforts at this time.
“Even if we could put dumpsters [out], we don’t have the trucks that could empty those dumpsters daily. That would be a requirement,” Lumumba explained. “We would have to empty those dumpsters daily from the various locations that they have. We don’t have that equipment because we are not in the garbage business.”