Still stocking bottled water after the city’s lead contamination crisis, Flint residents are now being forced to store something else in their homes — their trash.
The city announced Saturday that it will suspend trash pickup indefinitely beginning Monday while a judge works out a weeks-old disagreement between city officials. The disruption in services is the result of a battle between the mayor and the city council over which company to grant the city’s trash contract to after the most recent one expired Friday.
In June, Flint Mayor Karen Weaver recommended the city award the contract to Rizzo Environmental Services instead of continuing to work with the more expensive Republic Services. Weeks later, the council voted 8-1 against her recommendation and instead decided to renew the city’s contract with Republic.
In response, Weaver vetoed the council’s decision. “My responsibility is to put forth the lowest possible responsible bid,” she told an online talk show. “We are a cash-strapped city. We’re not trying to go back under an emergency manager. We’re trying to be fiscally responsible.”
Then the council overrode her veto. The council wanted more time to research the new company, which offered the city a bid that was $2 million cheaper, Michigan Live reports.
Stuck in limbo over whose decision is final, the council took the issue to court. Council member Scott Kincaid filed suit against Weaver’s administration Thursday asking the court to force the mayor to honor the council’s decision to continue contracting with Republic Services.
At the case’s first hearing, hours before the contract was set to expire Friday, the judge chastised the council and the mayor’s office for allowing politics to interfere with services for the city’s 100,000 residents.
“While the obnoxious stench of political intrigue permeates from city hall, an equally insalubrious aroma comes from our neighborhoods where our garbage will not be picked,” Genesee County Circuit Court Judge Joseph Farah said, according to Michigan Live.
Republic Services offered to continue services until a decision was made but the mayor’s office declined, according to a statement from the company.
Weaver said in a statement that she hopes services will be worked out by the middle of the week. In the meantime, the city asked residents to keep their trash in their homes so that animals don’t make a mess “and make the situation worse.”
“We realize this is an inconvenience and we’re working to resolve the matter as quickly as possible,” the statement read. “Meanwhile, we appreciate and thank the citizens of Flint for their cooperation.”
Cooperation could be a lot to ask for residents who already lost trust in their leaders during the city’s months-long water crisis.
Resignations and criminal charges have plagued government officials on every level after it was discovered that for 18 months they ignored or covered up research indicating the lead content in the city’s foul-smelling, discolored water was almost double that permitted by the Environmental Protection Agency.
The judge could make a decision on the case as early as Tuesday, but until then Flint residents are asked to bear with another of the city’s stinky problems.
“First the water. Now the trash. What’s next?” one resident told a local television station.