City Council looks to subpoena CEO of Red River

Local News

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Nearly a month after Red River Waste Solutions filed bankruptcy, members of Fort Wayne City Council still have unanswered questions about the future of the company and the city’s trash collection service.

Those unanswered questions lead to Councilman Russ Jehl (District 2) asking council to subpoena the current president of Red River to come to next week’s council meeting.

“I left last week’s solid waste advisory board meeting under the impression almost no, perhaps, none at all real discussion has taken place between Fort Wayne leadership and Red River leadership over the past two years,” Jehl said. “Also the performance bond which is to protect the citizens of Fort Wayne and there’s a default may be in jeopardy because it needs to be renewed annually on a calendar year basis. Time is of the essence and waiting around and hoping that things get better is proven for four years to be a poor strategy. I propose that the council invite Red River’s CEO to brief us directly and when he rejects that we inquire the legality to subpoena him.”

According to Red River’s website, the chief executive officer (CEO) is James A. Smith. The city’s attorney said there would be steps the council would need to take before an official subpoena of Red River’s CEO:

  • Ask the CEO to come on his own free will
  • Council opens an investigation the Red River contract and creates a committee
  • That committee can then come together to vote to subpoena him
  • If Red River’s CEO doesn’t honor that subpoena the committe would then have to go to superior court and get a court order for the CEO to testify. 

In January 2018, Red River took over Fort Wayne’s trash and recycling contract which covers over 25,000 homes. Since then thousands of complaints have been filed against the Texas-based trash collection company.

The Tuesday after filing for bankruptcy, council asked that an official from the company be present at the meeting. However, due to a “scheduling conflict,” officials did not attend.

During the meeting, several council members raised concerns about the ongoing complaints on missed or late trash pickups. Some members were also worried about rate hikes.

Councilman Tom Didier (District 3) asks that council also send a letter to state lawmakers about what they can do in the future. Due to state law, the city must take the lowest bidder for a contract. For example, the city went with Red River for trash removal instead of staying with Republic because Red River made a lower bid.

After more than 30 minutes council president Paul Ensley said that the council members will all sign a formal invitation to invite the CEO to next Tuesday’s meeting.

Council also wants to remind residents to report all missed collections by calling 311.

The next city council meeting is on Nov. 16 at 5:30 p.m.

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