FORT WANE, Ind. (WANE) – American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds have given cities across America millions of dollars in the wake of COVID-19 as a form of fiscal recovery.
And in Fort Wayne it has been hotly debated whether, or how much of the funds should go towards reducing citizens’ garbage bills, a service that long underperformed under Red River.
At Tuesday night’s city council meeting, a resolution advanced that would use up to 10 million dollars in ARPA funds to slowly increase the rate that Fort Wayne residents pay.
If approved by City Council, the trash fee would go up to $15.60 starting July 1, 2023. The rate would go up again, to $18.60, on Jan. 1, 2024.
Councilman Russ Jehl, who was the lone dissenting vote in the 6-1 outcome, says it’s not enough, and it really only serves to cover an underperforming public works department.
“If we use the ARPA funds to pay for the difference for GFL there is not a need for a rate increase. The only reason there is a need for a large rate increase is to bail out the Fort Wayne solid waste department,” Jehl said during a break in Tuesday’s city council meeting.
He had further remarks saying the department, “coddled Red River, and refused to fine them.”
However, as evidenced by the 6-1 decision in favor of what the department proposed, Jehl stands alone.
“I feel that we are at the point right now where we just need to focus on moving forward,” said councilwoman Sharon Tucker.
She focused on “making the best decision” with the funds.
Tucker still wants to use the funds to release some of the pressure caused by the rate increase but has not expressed being on board with using as much of the fund for it as Jehl has.
Next Tuesday at city council, discussion on the topic is expected.