• 45°

Committee should do what board should have and walk back garbage service decision

The Vicksburg Board of Mayor and Aldermen — and the committee appointed to consider proposals from potential trash haulers here, need to hit the pause button.

Waste Management has served the city of Vicksburg for more than 34 years. In fact, Waste Management has been the only trash hauler for the city of Vicksburg since its decision to privatize those services.

The company’s current, six-year contract with the city is up June 30. Back in February, the mayor approved advertising for proposals — not bids, a big difference legally — for the city’s solid waste management. Those proposals were due Monday by 9 a.m.

Waste Management’s contract was stamped as received by that office at 9:07 a.m.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen, in a two-to-one vote, voted to reject Waste Management’s proposal unopened. The other proposals received will go before a committee formed by the mayor and will make a recommendation back to the mayor and board of aldermen.

Rules are rules, yes. And as Mayor George Flaggs Jr. stressed on Monday, the integrity of the process must be protected. We agree.

However, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen are charged with looking at the totality of a situation, particularly when considering something as important as a contract for the city’s solid waste disposal.

That includes considering the economic impact to the city of Vicksburg, should Waste Management not continue on as the city’s solid waste hauler. That company employs 27 people who live and shop and do business in our community. What will the economic impact be to those families with short notice?

And, also as Flaggs pointed out, the employees of company who have served our community for 34 years know the culture of this community. They know it when grandmother isn’t able to take her garbage to the street and offer her help. They are often the eyes and ears of a neighborhood and are able to spot peculiarities and alert authorities to those. They know the city’s routes and the particulars of the residents.

When the committee makes a recommendation to the board, we urge the Board of Mayor and Aldermen to take into account the bigger picture as this issue relates to the citizens of Vicksburg.

Because the city sought proposals from solid waste contractors, not bids, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen — and the committee appointed to make such a recommendation — are charged with considering criteria other than a low bid.

What’s important to Vicksburg is not a bottom line figure on a proposal, or rejecting a proposal because it was seven minutes late. What’s important is that the Board takes into account the past performance of each contractor, and the scope of the contract and references offered by those contractors who want the city’s business.

How long have those companies been in business?

What do residents in the communities they provide services to think about that service?

We trust in the end the Board of Mayor and Aldermen will do what’s best for the citizens of Vicksburg.