By NELL LUTER FLOYD
Sun Staff Writer
The city of Jackson leaders are behind in meeting the timeline announced for getting a new garbage contract in place.
The timeline called for issuing an award on Dec. 15 to the company receiving the contract and then the city council voting on the proposal on Jan. 4, but that didn’t happen.
“COVID held it up and then the leadership decided to add the recommendation phase to the council to the process and that delayed the timeline,” said Virgi Lindsay, who represents Ward 7 and serves as council president.
“It was also delayed because the mayor had COVID.”
Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba presented the council on Jan. 11 with four recommendations based on the request for proposals that was issued on Oct. 21,and amended on Nov. 18.
The contract was advertised on Oct. 21 and 28, with Nov. 15, being the deadline for questions about it. The deadline to submit proposals was Nov. 23.
At the Jan. 11 meeting, the council asked the mayor to consider the two recommendations that would provide garbage pickup twice a week, with and without a vendor issuing 96-gallon trash carts, and not the two recommendations for once a week service, with and without the trash cart.
“We narrowed it down to two options and asked the mayor to take these two options and narrow it to one recommendation and come back to us with that recommendation,” Lindsay said.
“It must be a quick turnaround because we’re out of time.”
There were no vendor names attached to the recommendations the council received, in keeping with how selection process is being handled.
The twice-a-week recommendation presented requiring a cart was less than the twice-a-week recommendation with a cart. The twice-a-week pickup with a cart would be about $756,000 monthly, and the twice-a-week pickup without the cart would be around $858,000 a month.
Ashby Foote, who represents Ward 1, opposes supplying residents with a cart because he believes it will cost more in the long run. “If a resident wants a 96-gallon can, they can go to Lowe’s and buy their own,” he said.
Foote voted against the motion that the mayor consider either of the twice-a-week options and bring back his selection to the council.
Foote said he voted against the motion because he doesn’t believe city council should be in the middle of the process. “It’s confuses the citizens and muddies the water,” he said.
The next step is for the mayor to present a contract for the council to vote upon.
“We will need to get a contract very soon before the emergency contract expires on March 31,” Lindsay said.
Lumumba said at threetown hall meetings last fall that were about the contract process that he wanted residents to known about the process, the request for proposals, the timeline and measures put into place to ensure the process is transparent.
Catoria “Tori” Martin, city attorney who for most of her career has specialized in government contracts, explained at the town hall meetings that proposals would be evaluated using “blind scoring,” meaning a vendor’s name is not revealed at that point.
She said the state of Mississippi came up with blind scoring to evaluate proposals after former Mississippi Department of Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps, was indicted in 2014 on charges of accepting bribes and kickbacks in exchange for contracts and illicit activity with various corrections facilities. He was sentenced in May 2017 to almost 20 years in federal prison and fined $100,000 for running one of the largest and longest criminal conspiracies in the state’s history.
Martin pointed out an advantage that blind scoring offers: “It definitely allows you to have a less biased review of those proposals because you are unaware of who the vendors are when you’re giving the scores.”
A six-member evaluation committee, including three employees from the Department of Public Works and three from the city’s leadership, handled the blind review of each vendor’s technical proposal.
The technical proposal, which outlines a vendor’s plan to carry out the required service, counted for 30 percent of a vendor’s overall score. The rest of the score consists of fee proposal, 35 percent; presentation/interview, 25 percent; experience, 10 percent: Equal Business Opportunity plan, 10 percent; qualifications and key personnel, 10 percent; and references, 5 percent.
The evaluation period was scheduled from Nov. 23 through Dec. 13 and oral presentations were planned Dec. 6-8.
A new contract would begin April 1 and continue through April 1, 2027.
Martin said it takes about 60 days to transition from one vendor to another, should a different vendor be selected other than Waste Management, which has the current garbage contract for the city.
Note: The garbage contract is on the city council agenda for its Tuesday, Jan. 18 meeting.