A Fort Wayne councilman wants to create a new position to keep tabs on Red River Waste Solutions.
Councilman Russ Jehl gave out a letter at Tuesday’s council meeting outlining a plan for a temporary new position. He says the new hire would keep track of missed trash calls the council receives and check-in with Red River to see if the garbage was picked up.
“There remains a major problem that when garbage is missed, then Red River considers it to be optional to follow up on picking up that missed garbage. This would help identify where those high risk, high frequency misses are at and then proactively keep track of that.” said Jehl.
The proposed position would be funded through the fines collected from Red River. According to Jehl, City currently has one employee, the council administrator who spends about a third of the time dealing with missed trash. He says hiring an additional person would help keep record of the misses.
“Right now there is no ability to follow through. I pass it on to Solid Works, Solid Works passes it on to Red River, maybe Red River picks up the garbage, maybe it doesn’t, but if we have somebody to complete that feedback loop, we can push until the garbage gets picked up.” said Jehl.
At the meeting, Councilman Glynn Hines suggested that the employee could also go out and visit the locations with missed trash to see if it is a whole neighborhood affected, since Red River currently only counts individual misses that are called in.
If the majority of council members sign the letter, it will be presented to the Department of Solid Waste.
WANE 15 checked with the mayor’s office, asking if Mayor Tom Henry sees the position as necessary.
“We’re focused on ensuring that garbage and recycling collection continues to improve and go well as it has since the Administration worked with neighborhood leaders, Councilmen Arp and Didier, and Red River to implement changes to the collection process,” City Spokesman John Perlich said in a statement. “Misses and complaints continue to decline. I wouldn’t anticipate additional personnel being put in place as suggested by a member of City Council. This would be an unnecessary duplication of services. Our Solid Waste staff and 311 Call Center already work with residents, Council, and Red River to address any concerns that come up.”
According to the city’s website, tracking missed pickups, the number of complaints dropped from November to December. The last month of 2018 had the smallest amount of verified missed calls.
Total missed calls in December: 1,326 (5,265 in November)
Verified Missed Calls: 846 (3,984)
Penalties: $44,500 ($107,550)
Total missed calls in December: 878 (1,883 in November)
Verified Missed Calls: 565 (1,342)
Penalties: $29,400 ($57,600)
Comparing January, 2018 to January, 2019, the city saw a 72% drop in missed pickup complaints. 5,539 missed pickups were reported to the city in January, 2018. That number was at 1,551 a year later. City leaders told WANE 15 .003% of carts were not picked up in January.
Steven Smith, a Vice President at Red River said missed pickups in January, 2018 were blamed on confusion of holidays and bad weather.