The city of Jackson is once again being sued by Richard’s Disposal, which has served as the capital city’s emergency garbage collector for the past year.
City Attorney Catoria Martin revealed on Monday that the contractor had filed suit against Jackson following a special city council meeting, stating that the company had submitted paperwork as the council has failed to provide a six-year contract despite undergoing the RFP process and serving the city through two emergency declarations.
“To the public, Richard’s Disposal has made the determination that they are filing suit against the city of Jackson. They are appealing this decision of the city council and so therefore, that is the reason why I am recommending to the administration and the city council that we pull that item from the agenda today,” Martin said.
The minutes-long council meeting was then followed by a press conference led by Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba, who addressed the growing concerns of residents and informed the public of the city’s plans to resolve the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality’s (MDEQ) notice of violations.
“We have a meeting scheduled with MDEQ on Wednesday of this week where we will talk about our plan,” Lumumba said. “We will talk about the limitations and why we haven’t put a garbage bin in every ward. It is because we don’t have the ability to tote it away. We don’t have the trucks, we don’t have the personnel in order to monitor that, and so we are trying to do is put forth our best efforts.”
On Friday, the MDEQ sent a notice of the city’s violation to Miss. Code Ann. §17-17-5 to Lumumba, urging the Jackson mayor to submit a new “Solid Waste Collection Action Plan” as soon as possible.
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,” Chris Wells, the executive director at MDEQ, 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.”
Lumumba has since stated that he plans to discuss implementing a third emergency contract naming Richard’s Disposal as Jackson’s temporary trash collection contractor with the city attorney and officials with Richard’s.
“What I am going to talk to our city attorney about is about whether or not we can put forward some form of another emergency contract that not only works for the city and the city council, but also works for Richard’s Disposal while the rest of these legal matters are being worked out,” Lumumba said.