FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — The city of Fort Wayne has set the wheels in motion to transition from Red River to a new trash and recycling collector.
As WANE 15 reported Tuesday night, city officials and city council members have met with GFL Environmental, which is the lowest of the three companies that bid for a contract with Fort Wayne.
Director of Public Works, Shan Gunawardena told WANE 15 they have not met with Republic Services or Waste Management yet because the city is legally required to go with the lowest bidder unless they’re found to not be responsive and responsible.
Gunawardena said they’ve been impressed by GFL Environmental.
“They understood our needs here and we had a good feel for their leadership as well,” Gunawardena said. “[We] understand what their strategy was moving forward with the contract if they do get selected, and to make sure we know what we’re getting into this time around.
WANE 15 spoke with a representative from the GFL Environmental USA on Wednesday. Joe Munem is the company’s Director of Government Affairs and Public Relations. He said they’re familiar with Fort Wayne after opening a transfer station here nearly two years ago.
Munem said they know the city, the routes, and think they can do better than the current provider.
“We think that the city leaders got to see that we’re not looking to apply some cookie cutter solution for Fort Wayne,” Munem said. “We’ve driven all the routes. We’ve seen what’s being done currently, and we told them how we could do it better.
Munem said GFL serves more than 900 municipalities in North America, including more than 120 communities in nearby Michigan. That list of cities includes Detroit.
“We can come in and make sure that this is picked up when it’s supposed to be picked up. This is a service that the taxpayers are paying for, and they deserve better service. Not only that, we’re the lowest responsive bidder. So, we believe that we can provide the best service at the best price,” Munem said.
Gunawardena said the city has not started negotiating a contract with GFL Environmental. They are doing their due diligence.
While all of this is happening, Mayor Tom Henry has called for a special meeting at the city council meeting on Tuesday, March 29 to discuss and potentially approve the transition agreement between the city and Red River Waste Solutions, which can be read below:
The agreement details how the two parties will handle the transition. Red River will officially reject its contract with Fort Wayne as of December 30, 2021 as part of its bankruptcy proceedings, but will continue to provide services through June 30, 2022.
The agreement outlines how fines incurred by Red River will be handled with the city.
Part of the agreement includes the hiring of Barry Pruitt at the expense of Red River. The city wants someone local to run Red River’s Fort Wayne operations for its final few months.
Pruitt is a Fort Wayne resident with a background in the industry. His LinkedIn profile showcases his work history that includes more than two decades as a general manager for Waste Management in Fort Wayne and nearly 14 years working several positions for Republic Services.
City Councilman Geoff Paddock told WANE 15 that the target date to select a new hauler in order for them to start on July 1 is Tuesday May 10. That would be the day the council would vote on and approve the city’s next garbage and recycling collector.