Without quorum, city delays decision on waste collection RFP

Published 12:50 am Saturday, March 10, 2018


NATCHEZ — The City of Natchez must wait at least three more days before it can consider extending an emergency waste collection contract after aldermen failed to make a quorum at a specially called meeting Friday.

Aldermen were scheduled to consider whether to extend an emergency waste and recycling contract and to consider approving a request for proposals that would allow companies to submit bids on waste and recycling services.

Neither vote occurred, however, when only two aldermen, Ward 3 Alderwoman Sarah Smith and Ward 5 Alderman Benjamin Davis, showed up to the 8:30 a.m. specially called meeting.

That left the board two aldermen short of a quorum, and Natchez Mayor Darryl Grennell was forced to announce that the board could not conduct city business.

Ward 1 Alderwoman Joyce Arceneux-Mathis, Ward 2 Alderman Billie Joe Frazier and Ward 4 Alderwoman Felicia Irving were not in attendance presumably because they had Friday afternoon flights scheduled to Washington, D.C., in order to attend the Congressional City Conference.

Ward 6 Alderman Dan Dillard could not show up because of a work obligation, Smith told those in attendance.

The meeting had been scheduled for Friday at 8:30 a.m. since at least Tuesday of that week.

Without a quorum, the city could neither move forward Friday with calling for waste and recycling bids nor with extending its emergency contract with Waste Pro.

The four- to six-month emergency contract — established at the end of November 2017 — allowed the city to continue receiving waste collection services while putting together a request for proposals, though it was forced to suspend recycling services in order to maintain the cost of collection.

City officials said at the time they hoped to have a new contract awarded after four months, which would be the end of March, but the city has yet to begin accepting proposals, and City Attorney Bob Latham said Thursday the city would need to exercise the final two months of the emergency contract to grant adequate time to carry out the process.

The cancellation of Friday’s meeting means the city’s next opportunity to discuss the matters will likely come at Tuesday’s regular meeting, though at least one of the traveling aldermen would need to participate via telephone in order to hold that meeting.

Smith apologized to those whose attendance at Friday’s meeting went in vain.

“There are people that traveled several hours — several people  — to be here,” Smith said. “I appreciate you all for that, and I apologize sincerely that you have done that for no reason. That’s really sad.”

After Smith asked if Grennell had been given any indication that the board would not be able to reach a quorum, Grennell responded, “No” and said he had originally set the meeting for 11 a.m. but rescheduled for 8:30 a.m. to accommodate the three aldermen’s travel plans. The flights to Washington, Grennell said, were scheduled for 12:10 p.m. out of Baton Rouge.

Aside from waste and recycling issues, Grennell also listed the agenda items the city had planned to take care of Friday that would have to be deferred, which include:

  • The handling of the refinancing on a bond issuance that went toward construction of the Natchez Convention Center
  • The Natchez Police Department’s aim to declare certain forfeited weapons as surplus property for purposes of selling said weapons
  • Proclamation of a local emergency to due the rising Mississippi River
  • Discussion of applying for the 2018 Community Development Block Grant.