City of Jackson’s trash lawsuits could be draining the council’s legal budget

Published: Jun. 2, 2022 at 10:18 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The legal battles over who will pick up trash in the city of Jackson appear far from over.

Jackson City Council President Virgi Lindsay spoke with WLBT Thursday about how much money was budgeted for legal expenses and what happens if the city exceeds that amount.

“I do think that we’re all concerned about the fact that the garbage issue could result in some hefty legal fees,” Lindsay said.

This past budgeting season, the council dedicated $400,000 for unexpected professional legal costs, $250,000 for professional services, and $180,000 for anything regarding annexation.

Of that $830,000, it’s possible that the city has spent over $138,000 on trash related lawsuits alone.

The uncertainty is due to a couple of factors.

First, it’s unclear how much the city council owes one of its attorneys, Deshun Martin.

Second, it’s unclear whether the mayor’s administration also budgeted money for legal fees, or if the mayor is pulling from that same pot of $830,000 as the city council.

Lindsay said she’s cautiously optimistic that the city won’t go over what’s budgeted, but if it did…

“We would need to look at where we could find some additional money within probably our general fund because we’re really short this year in disposable income and certainly the fund balance is just about tapped out,” she said.

Lindsay said nobody on the council anticipated the trash battle getting this expensive.

However, she said some of the lawsuits that have come about as a result are completely necessary like, for example, whether or not a Mississippi mayor can veto a “no vote.”

“If we do not have some sort of ruling on that, then I think we’re going to have confusion that is statewide,” Lindsay said. “This isn’t just about Jackson. It’s not just about garbage. It is about how we govern and how municipal governments operate in our state. That’s why we have no choice but to push this.”

As the city continues to wait on a hearing date for that suit, Lindsay said she fears another one could be looming after the city council’s recent refusal to pay Richard’s Disposal for its April services.

Aside from garbage-related lawsuits, the city is also in court for a number of other issues, including one for having lead in its drinking water.

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