JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) – A city councilman questions why the same three companies, and only the same three companies, responded to the city’s newest request for proposals for residential trash collection services.
Three firms, Waste Management, Richard’s Disposal, and FCC Environmental Services, submitted proposals in response to the city’s October RFP.
Ward Three Councilman Kenneth Stokes questions why another company, National Waste United, did not bid, and why FCC was allowed to bid after twice being rejected by the city council.
“Somebody needs to answer some questions for me,” he said. “Why do you keep bringing this company? Are they suggesting one-time-a-week collections, which everybody said no (to)? A big old garbage can that old people can’t get to the streets… You know, it’s things like that that make people say… ‘this is not the Jackson we want.’”
This summer, Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba twice recommended that the city hire FCC to haul trash. However, the proposal was twice rejected by the city council, in part, because it would have caused trash rates to go up and would have reduced collections from twice to once a week.
If a council votes down a proposal twice, it cannot be brought back up for consideration for at least a year, according to statute.
However, the council’s vote does not prohibit FCC from responding to or being considered for a new RFP.
Stokes didn’t say he would vote against FCC, but said, “We need to make sure we can keep and have the best company that’s feasible to pick up garbage in the city.”
FCC was one of three firms that responded to the city’s March 2021 proposal for trash-hauling services. It received the highest scores during the RFP evaluation process, documents from the city show.
The mayor argued that rates would be going up regardless of who received the contract. He also said that FCC would provide better working conditions for hoppers than the city’s current contractor and would help the city address illegal dumping.
After the council voted down that company, the mayor entered into talks with Waste Management, the firm that received the second-highest score during the evaluation process. After those talks broke down, Lumumba issued an emergency declaration and signed a contract with National Waste United.
The council later rescinded the mayor’s state of emergency, doing away with the National Waste deal, and a new six-month emergency contract with Waste Management was issued.
Waste Management and its subcontractors had already been providing trash pickup services. Its previous contract expired on September 30.
“Is the fix in on this? How in the world do we have a company that should not even be involved in the process… and the company that was raising all kinds of cane did not even bid?” Stokes asked. “So, something is not passing the smell test.”
Socrates Garrett, a principal with National Waste, said his company did not submit a proposal because of supply chain concerns. “The supply chain got shut down on us,” he said.
Jackson issued its new RFP in October. Among provisions, it mandates that within one year of the contract being executed, 75 percent of all company employees providing collection services must be full-time. Full-time is considered 30 hours a week or 130 hours a month
The scope of work also includes several provisions that the mayor touted as part of the failed contract with FCC, such as the requirement for all residents to have uniform 96-gallon trash bins, a guarantee that two hoppers are assigned to work each truck, and that GPS technology is used to monitor collection activity.
According to the RFP, the service provider would ensure collection vehicles are staffed with a driver and two hoppers at all times. For each violation, the contractor will be required to pay the city a $1,000 “performance fee payment.”
Lumumba was opposed to Waste Management, in part, because he said workers were kept on as temp staff for years. He also said that workers were mistreated, and had told him they were threatening to strike.
The proposal also includes rules for rate adjustments based on the annual consumer price index.
The administration is expected to carry a proposal to the council for consideration in January.
Lumumba said he did not have a response to Stokes’ comments.
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