TUPELO • City officials are exploring the possibility of hiring temporary workers to collect litter scattered throughout the All-America City.
Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton presented the idea to the City Council at a recent work session. He said the city has always had a seasonal problem with litter every winter and members of his administration have worked to try and find a solution to the issue.
Don Lewis, the city’s chief operations officer, was a chief orchestrator of the proposal. Lewis told the Daily Journal that leaders in City Hall are calling the program “Project Solution.”
The goal is to keep the town looking as nice as possible and possibly employ people who are homeless in an effort to transition people back into the workforce.
“We’re getting the city clean and then we have another group that we’re helping to maybe get back on the right track,” Lewis said.
According to Lewis’ proposal, the city would not directly hire any of the temporary workers and would mainly coordinate with an employment agency. Lewis said the city would not publicly bid the contract for the program since this would only be for a short-term basis, initially. If it does turn into a long-term project, it would later be publicly bid.
“For this first one, I’m working directly with a company where I know the individuals and because I look at it as a professional service,” Lewis said.
The administration is still working out details, but Lewis estimated the initiative will cost around $20,000 to $30,000 to get started and thinks the money would come from the city’s trash collection budget item.
The program would last 90 to 120 days on a trial basis and officials would revisit the program to evaluate its results.
“It may just not work at all, or it may be the greatest thing since sliced bread,” Lewis said.
Many council members indicated they supported the program and expressed frustration that people aren’t responsibly disposing of their trash.
Ward 1 Councilman Markel Whittington told the Daily Journal that he plans to support the program because the city needs to do something about litter.
“It’s a shame that we’ve done so much for the city to remove blight and tear down buildings and do all this code enforcement and we have this litter problem that makes the city look so ugly,” Whittington said.
Whittington said he hopes a long-term solution can be implemented to curb the city’s litter problem, but he himself doesn’t know what the solution to the problem is. He hopes once people realize that taxpayer dollars are being spent on cleaning trash up that people will finally stop.
Ward 2 Councilman Lynn Bryan and Ward 7 Councilman Willie Jennings also support the idea behind the initiative, but said they want more details.
“I’m open to pretty much anything,” Bryan said.
City leaders are expected to discuss the topic at a future work session for more input.