- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 4, 2015

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Tensions flared between the Jackson City Council and Mayor Tony Yarber after the council again voted down awarding an approximately $15 million sewage sludge removal contract supported by the mayor.

The Clarion-Ledger reports (https://on.thec-l.com/1NPDORr) the council voted 5-1 Tuesday against awarding the contract to a company that partnered on the project with a political ally of Yarber. The vote was the second time the council voted against awarding the contract to Denali-SGE.

Yarber asked the council for an up or down vote on the issue. After the vote against awarding the contract, the council attempted to move on to the next issue, but Yarber said he wanted to speak. Council President Melvin Priester Jr. said they were moving on the next issue on the agenda.

The mayor kept trying to speak while a clerk with the city clerk’s office began to read the next item on the council’s agenda.

Council member Tyrone Hendrix told the mayor that his administration hasn’t been providing information to council members in a timely fashion.

Yarber then called a news conference in his City Hall office to blast the council for what he said was petty politics.

“Today, we were absolutely disturbed by the actions of this council,” Yarber said. “It was the culmination of things. … We have attempted to move this city forward only to see certain of our efforts obstructed.”

Yarber said the sludge removal contract isn’t the only item that the council has obstructed his administration from instituting.

The biosolids contract is to remove 305,000 tons of sewer sludge from the city’s Savannah Street Wastewater Treatment Plant by Dec. 31, 2017, the EPA’s deadline to remove the biosolids as part of the city’s consent decree with the federal government to upgrade its wastewater treatment.

Yarber said Tuesday that the council’s vote means there is no way the city will be able to meet the Dec. 31, 2017 deadline to have the sludge removed. City ordinances say the same item can’t be brought back up until a year later if it has been voted down twice.

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Information from: The Clarion-Ledger, https://www.clarionledger.com

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