FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — A measure that went before Fort Wayne City Council Tuesday night that Mayor Tom Henry hoped would “fix” the city’s Solid Waste Department did not pass.
The council voted 3:6 against the proposal. However, council did show interest in revisiting the resolution in the new year with time to add and remove some items.
The resolution authored by Councilman Russ Jehl (1st) alleges the service provided by city trash and recycling collection contractor Red River “has been poor,” and the Solid Waste Department has ignored requests from City Council to fine Red River and respond to “several topics of concern” raised by the council about the contractor.
The resolution claims that City Council has “no confidence in the leadership of the Fort Wayne Solid Waste Department” and called for Henry to “intervene in attentively fixing the issues of the Solid Waste Department.”
Red River struggled when it took over the city’s trash and recycling contract in January 2018, with an average of just under 3,000 complaints about missed collections per month for the first six months. In the first month alone, Red River caught 5,122 complaints.
It has recovered, though, averaging just over 100 complaints about missed pickups per month this year, according to city records. The city maintains a goal of 83 misses per month.
During the city council meeting on Tuesday, council members agreed that they’ve seen improvement from Red River, but want to collaborate more with the Solid Waste Department for more oversight in the execution of the their contract with Red River.
Since Red River has held the city’s contract, it has been fined $462,800 for missed collections. The city said, though, that fines are not unusual.
City spokesman John Perlich said in a statement that Red River and the city’s Solid Waste Department are doing their jobs.
“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve been able to meet the needs of the community without interruption. Garbage and recycling collection has seen vast improvements since the start of the contract with Red River a few years ago. The contractor is meeting the benchmarks and we’re not hearing complaints from residents. The public has confidence in our ability to provide essential services, which includes collecting garbage and recycling materials. Our focus will continue to be on partnering with residents and businesses to help them through the pandemic and provide services to move Fort Wayne forward in a positive direction.”
Perlich added that he does not believe City Council has “lost faith” in the Solid Waste Department, suggesting that’s the opinion of Jehl alone.
“The resolution represents a view/opinion at this time,” said Perlich. “It doesn’t result in any actions moving forward.”