FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Red River Waste Solutions began its trash and recycling contract in Fort Wayne on January 2, 2018. This week, that contract comes to an end early.

GFL Environmental USA will start its tenure as the city’s solid waste hauler on Friday, July 1. Mayor Tom Henry will be joined by representatives of the incoming company in a press conference on Tuesday.

During Red River’s struggles, city administration has leased as many as nine trucks and hired seasonal drivers, used employees from the solid waste department, and pulled employees from other departments like the parks and street departments to supplement Red River’s poor service.

Largely due to that, they were able to resume recycling collections last week after announcing for two straight weeks that they couldn’t get to recycling.

John Perlich, a spokesman for Mayor Tom Henry, told WANE 15 on Monday that all “B week” recycling was completed last week. “A week” collections will occur as scheduled this week.

While everyone is looking to GFL to save the city’s trash and recycling situation, 2nd district city councilman Russ Jehl is pressuring the city on giving back to residents for the poor service over the last four and a half years.

The councilman held a press conference Monday afternoon to detail a proposal he’ll bring up at Tuesday’s city council meeting.

The proposal calls for the city to use money from fines incurred on Red River to give residents a refund.

Jehl’s resolution asks for the city’s solid waste department to detail misses and delays, and then to have the city’s law department give a recommended fine amount. Jehl said the fines for missing two weeks of recycling alone could provide enough money to give all residents a refund.

Jehl said in his press conference that potential fine money would either have to go to residents or stay with the solid waste department, which was recently revealed by Jehl to be $3 million in the red.

Perlich told WANE 15 that money withheld from Red River throughout the life of the contract is “best suited” to stay with the city’s solid waste department.

“This keeps the Fund operational and gives us the ability to continue to provide solid waste services to the community and work to keep rates as low as possible,” Perlich said.

Perlich added this statement, which indicates relief for ratepayers is still coming, but not in the form of a refund:

We value and appreciate the patience and understanding that the community has given us throughout the Red River challenges. As we’ve met with residents in all quadrants of the City this month, their focus and ours is on the future with GFL as our new partner and not looking back. GFL is a large, experienced, and successful company with the resources and professionals to do an outstanding job for the residents in the City of Fort Wayne. We’ve not raised rates over several years due to Red River’s subpar services and will work to keep future rates as low as possible and will work with City Council on providing some type of relief with no monthly increases for a period of time. We have been working with all members of council to determine the optimum rate structure. Those details will be worked out in the coming weeks as part of the rate discussion with GFL getting ready to start. This wouldn’t be in the form of a refund. The resolution that’s been presented is the viewpoint of the person submitting it and doesn’t represent a binding document that requires action by the executive branch.”

We reported last October that the city had fined Red River $500K at that point. That was when the Texas-based company had just filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy.

The city’s transition agreement with Red River that kept the company here through the end of this month called for the first $50k in fines between March and June of 2021 to be waived.

Any fines Red River owed the city during the transition agreement would be withheld from a sum total of $1.9 million the city agreed to pay Red River during the transition, per the agreement approved unanimously by city council.

According to Perlich, Fort Wayne fined Red River $715,128 from 2018 to 2021 and $604,508 from January to May of this year.

An important trash and recycling reminder: GFL’s first full week of its contract includes the 4th of July holiday next Monday, so scheduled collections will be delayed by one day next week.