Council Deals Mayor a Blow, Rejects Proposals to Respond to EPA Mandates

Ward 6 Council Tyrone Hendrix helped block the mayor's effort to give a $2.5 million contract to a Los Angeles-based company yesterday, citing the budget's dire condition.

Ward 6 Council Tyrone Hendrix helped block the mayor's effort to give a $2.5 million contract to a Los Angeles-based company yesterday, citing the budget's dire condition. Photo by Imani Khayyam.

— Citing Jackson's dire budget projections, Jackson City Council Rules Committee, headed up by Ward 6 Councilman Tyrone Hendrix, yesterday unanimously voted down Mayor Tony Yarber's request for an agreement with Los Angeles-based AECOM to manage Environmental Protection Agency-mandated consent-decree projects over the next several years for a total cost to the City of $2.5 million.

Yarber expressed his frustration after the meeting that the council has thwarted another of his contract attempts. "It's always about the contracts," Yarber told the Jackson Free Press after the June 6 meeting. "It's never about the people."

Hendrix disagreed during a phone interview later Monday, citing the hesitance on his part to place more obligations on taxpayers during lean times for the city. "At the end of the day, I hear what the mayor said, and I feel his frustration, but it is our job as the council to make the financial decisions that make the most sense for the City of Jackson," Hendrix said.

With recent news that the City has dipped into its emergency reserve funds, leaving a little more than a million dollars for unforeseen expenditures, Hendrix said that agreeing to the contract without assurances that the money was there to pay for it did not sit well with him.

"When we look at the price tag of two and a half million dollars, and we don't know how much money is in the account that is going to pay for this particular service that we are going to vote on and approve, that's a reason for pause," Hendrix said.

The mayor also mentioned a contract the council rejected last week with BFI Waste Services, LLC, now owned by the larger and out-of-town Republic Services.

"You couple all of that with a water treatment plant, the O.B. Curtis plant, that needs to have sludge taken away from that plant that the city council voted against this past Tuesday so we can't remove sludge, so we can't continue to treat the water at that plant," Yarber said June 3.

Ward 4 Councilman De'Keither Stamps led the charge to block the slude contract, which succeeded, after learning that the City would not be dumping the sludge waste onto farmland in the surrounding county, but instead in a city dump. He called the byproduct "free fertilizer." Outgoing Director of Public Works Kishia Powell told the council that the sludge would be deposited in a city-owned landfill, not used to grow crops.

Nevertheless, Stamps introduced an amendment into the agreement to ensure that the waste, if the sludge was ever to be dumped on farmland, would be sent to at least 40-percent black-owned farms.

"You couple that with us trying to replace water lines in Wards 2 and 3, but the city council voted against it because the engineer wasn't from Jackson, but then they approved the engineer that was from Ridgeland," Yarber said.

Email city reporter Tim Summers Jr. at tim@jacksonfreepress.com. Read more city coverage at jfp.ms/localnews.


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