Mayor slams down false claims of unsigned interlocal agreements

July 11, 2018 in News

By Cianna Hope Reeves,

JSU Student Intern,

Mayor Lumumba addresses accusations of stalled street resurfacing contracts.

Mayor Lumumba addresses accusations of stalled street resurfacing contracts.

Street resurfacing and pavement issues are still ongoing battles in the city and patience is wearing thin with some after months of detours, one-lane usages and the sight of vacant bulldozers taking over byways and highways.

The citizens of Jackson are wanting answers after rumors that Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba is causing the hold-up of infrastructure projects coming to fruition; in a press briefing Wednesday afternoon, he attempted to clear the atmosphere by clarifying the issue.

Lumumba stated the accusations are not true; instead, issues of approving agreements have been a constant difficulty in previous administrations.

“The process of which interlocal agreements have been handled has been historically inefficient. In fact, the total of interlocal agreements have been in purgatory since 2016 – many of which have never been delivered to the mayor’s office. This process, as it stands now, has played a major part in holding up the needed work in the city of Jackson,” expressed Lumumba.

He added, “I want to assure everyone that I do not have a stack of interlocal agreements sitting on my desk refusing to sign them, as it has been suggested by some. That claim could not be further from the truth, and it has been a ploy by some to gain political points.”

The interlocal agreements are written contracts between Hinds County and the City of Jackson regarding projects waiting to be stamped for approval by different governmental entities before further initiating the projects.

Engineers, Public Works Department, Legal Department, City Council, Lumumba and Attorney General must provide signatures for all projects, and if one believes changes are needed to be made within the contract agreement, the cycle of approval repeats until majority representatives are satisfied.

In an effort to create a smoother and faster operation to approve infrastructure ordeals in the city, the administration announced The Standing Project Committee may be developed to eliminate the ongoing hassle of project delays.

Chief Administrative Officer Robert Blaine said the four-person committee will be a combined force of Public Works representatives and legal representatives from the City of Jackson and Hinds County.

“These four persons will determine the viability of each proposed interlocal infrastructure project before it reaches the Hinds County Board of Supervisors (HCBS). Once the project is approved by the committee, it would go before the HCBS for a vote, if it passes, the interlocal agreement would then be sent to Jackson’s Legal Department who will notify the county that we have received it. It will then be transferred to our Public Works Department for a quick and final review to go before the City Council, and upon their approval it would be sent to Lumumba’s office for signature,” said Blaine.

The process does not end there; once the mayor has signed for approval, the train of documents have to be sent back to HCBS and then to the Attorney General, which at that point, they have no control over its whereabouts.

With the development of the committee, the City of Jackson believes this method will ensure that critical infrastructure matters do not go unnoticed for an unnecessary and unreasonable amount of time and also hopes it will allow everyone to be aware of the paper trail regardless of who is in office.

Lumumba said the collaborative plan is not to disregard the approval of other departments who have chosen roads to repair but to merely make sure Jackson assures citizens the strategy will be effective and operate in the best interest of the people.

“To date it has not been effective or organized and sometimes we have no clue where interlocal agreements are dropped off and we are unaware what happens after they leave us. To make certain we can address all issues that are within our power and to know who’s desk it is on at all times, we want to propose this method,” declared the mayor.

Lumumba also took time to address the status of the 11 contracts that have been initiated by Hinds County since taking office.

“They are now going through review, and they are now in the process of being returned to the council for approval. Once the council approves them, I will execute any interlocal agreement that is legal and any interlocal that supports the infrastructure of our citizens,” he explained.

Understanding that Jacksonians are becoming more hopeless about the repairing of street work, Lumumba promised an effective collaboration and encouraged them to remain patient and optimistic about road maintenances.

“I am well aware that citizens want their roads paved so there is nothing that gives me greater joy than to sign any document that will assure that another road will be paved in Jackson. We are serious about this process, and we are working to move all barriers out of the way to eliminate the drag that has plagued the city,” expressed Lumumba.