FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) Mayor Tom Henry announced plans to help alleviate the problem of missed trash and recycling collections by Red River Waste Solutions. Red River has been responsible for trash collection since January 2018 and in that time there have been thousands of complaints from residents about missed collections.
During a Tuesday afternoon news conference, Henry, the City of Fort Wayne Public Works Division leaders and members of the Mayor’s Working Group on Garbage and Recycling announced that starting Monday July 1, street department employees will work on their off-hours to collect missed garbage and recycling that has not been picked up more than 24 hours after a miss is reported.
Residents are asked to continue to call 311 to report misses.
The street department employees will be paid with fines collected from Red River when it fails to meet criteria outlined in its contract with Fort Wayne. By statute, fines collected from Red River have to be used for expenditures within the Solid Waste budget.
The city projects two trucks with a total of four employees at the start on July 1. They foresee the services to be in the $32,000 range per month for equipment, personnel, and fuel. All of this will be paid by the assessed fines collected. No taxpayer/ratepayer dollars will be used.
According to Mayor Henry, since new routes intended to improve collection efforts went into effect last fall, Red River has missed between one to two percent of households each week. Red River makes about 120,000 collections each week.
“It’s the City’s duty to ensure the best services possible are being provided to our garbage and recycling customers and look for proactive solutions aimed at quality assurance,” said Mayor Henry. “We recognize a number of customers have experienced challenges and we’re taking action again because our residents deserve the best, and we demand a higher standard of performance from Red River. We want all residents to know that we’re committed to meeting the needs of the community.”
Henry said it’s not reasonable to cancel the current contract with Red River because it would result in lengthy collection delays lasting four to six weeks and a possible lawsuit from Red River. It would also take months to rebid the contract.
City Councilman Russ Jehl issued a statement about Henry’s plan minutes after the news conference concluded. Jehl said he sent a letter to the Henry administration on September 18, 2018 asking why it had not yet invoked the self-cure clause of the Red River contract.
I am grateful the Mayor has taken the clothespin off his nose. The garbage issue cannot be fixed without his engagement.Russ Jehl, Fort Wayne City Council 2nd District
City officials provided some data to show Red River’s progress. From January to May they have 1,815,000 trash pick ups. For that period in 2018 they missed 8,218 pick ups and for that same period in 2019 they missed 6,322. That’s a 23 percent decrease.
They provided similar info for recycling pick ups. From January to May they have 803,000 recycling pick ups. For that 22-week period in 2018 they missed 4,571 pick ups and for that same period in 2019 they missed 1,948. That’s a 57 percent decrease.
Officials noted that the missed pick ups is very small, less than two percent, but they still want to do better.