FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — In the apparent end-game with Red River Waste Solutions, Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry did not mince words.
“What we’re doing is figuring out the best way out of all of this,” Henry told WANE 15. “And how long that takes I don’t know.”
And who will be the trash collector a year from now?
“Somebody else, probably.”
Henry said nothing has been put in motion as the city works on “plan B” while Red River is in Chapter 11 bankruptcy court. He expressed hope the company can tread water long enough for the city to secure a backup provider. “I think they’re trying to hang on as long as they can.”
Henry, who just had a small skin cancer successfully removed from his nose, said Red River is flying drivers into Fort Wayne and “paying them a premium” to stay here. Henry said most CDL drivers prefer semi driving to trash collection since it pays more. “Plus the fact that they have filed bankruptcy, a lot of their drivers are leaving.”
Red River has three years left on its contract with the city. A Jan. 1 bond payment deadline passed with “no indication” Red River had paid it. Tuesday, the mayor confirmed Red River still has unpaid fines. A bankruptcy judge might determine if those are ever paid.
Still, Henry defended his patience with Red River, which has been littered with complaints since it took over services in 2018.
“There have been people who have said ‘fine them more.’ What’s that going to accomplish? They’re already in bankruptcy. Fining them more is really not going to accomplish anything.
“What I would rather do is try to work with them and with other providers as backup (and even our own trucks if we have to) to make sure trash gets picked up. That’s the goal: just to have your trash picked up. And we’re going to do all we can to make sure that happens.
“In the meantime, we’ll work behind the scenes trying to figure out financially and otherwise, what needs to be done to make this long term.”