Local News

UPDATED: Councilman Jehl gives garbage collection plan

(Photo Supplied/Red River Waste Solutions)

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WOWO): Fort Wayne City Councilman Russ Jehl laid out an action plan Friday to try and improve trash collection from Red River Waste Solutions.

Jehl offered the following steps:

  • An honest assessment of capabilities – Conduct an honest assessment of the current trash collection capabilities of the contractor and city staff. Two weeks ago the community was told by Solid Waste that by the end of the week they would be caught up. Two weeks later they are, at minimum, four days behind, with many people waiting well over a week for service.
  • Stop Making Excuses, Make Service Adjustments – Likely, the honest assessment will show the combined efforts of Red River and the City cannot pick up all the garbage and recycling on time.  Rather than continuing to expect the broken system to work, it is necessary to temporarily reduce curbside recycling to once a month and focus on picking up the garbage on time.
  • Reset the System – With a realistic and honest plan in place that is scaled to existing capabilities, the system should be reset with a reliable schedule.  The schedule is presently so off, it is not a schedule at all.
  • Put the full resources of the City to work-The 311 system is broken and is no longer able to address the other needs of the community due to overwhelming trash calls.  Solid Waste cannot keep track of aging misses.  Provide administrative assistance and staffing from other areas within Public Works or other departments to ease the load and service the residents.
  • Ensure misses do not go past a week- With helping 311 and Solid Waste with additional resources, ensure that at no point does any resident go more than a week without trash pick up.

“It’s time to quit pretending and to be honest,” Councilman Jehl said. “The combined efforts of Red River and the City cannot pick up all the garbage and recycling. Tough decisions need to be made now, not later this year. Red River is not the only barrier to getting the garbage picked up, it is the City’s leadership vacuum.”

Jehl, who was joined by Councilman Tom Dider, is imploring Mayor Tom Henry to outline his own transition plan and incorporate these action steps before the State of City Address later this month.

The City of Fort Wayne released the following statement:

The City Administration today received a news release from the City Council office following a news conference led by two members of City Council. Collaboration, open communication, and constructive dialogue will be more helpful moving forward than repeated news conferences that point out the solid waste delivery shortcomings that are already known and being worked on to help meet the needs of the community.  Councilmen Jehl and Didier know that the Administration is doing everything in its power to make the needed corrections. Councilman Jehl also sits on the Solid Waste Advisory Board and knows how hard everyone is working to overcome these challenges.

The City is in daily communication with Red River’s bankruptcy counsel as well as its staff and restructuring advisors. We are also in daily communication with a number of industry providers seeking available capacity to help offset Red River’s shortcomings. There is no lack of effort, communication, or creativity. At present, the City is operating  seven vehicles with City staff to help offset Red River’s shortcomings. We are also coordinating additional collections with other parties.

The City anticipates finalizing an agreement with Red River very soon to serve in a short transition period.  The City must comply with State mandated public bidding laws in order to secure a long-term replacement provider of the City’s choosing. The formalities of complying with the public bidding process is already underway. The bankruptcy court has been advised of the impending proposal.  Much progress is being made.

The City will issue an update this weekend once we’re able to determine how much progress is able to be made in today’s collections. Today’s results will help determine the best next steps for  our ratepayers with a good understanding of the collection schedule moving forward. We also know that our residents and neighborhoods want weekly garbage collection and recycling every other week. We plan to continue that process.

We know that Red River underbid the original contract and is now insolvent and faltering. The waste industry nationally is stretched thin with its own labor and equipment shortages and the impact of COVID-19.

Our 311 staff and City employees working on the solid waste issue do outstanding work each day to serve the public. We’re grateful for them.

Mayor Henry and his leadership team remain committed to providing the best solid waste services possible. We share in the frustration of the public about the services that aren’t meeting expectations. Our residents and neighborhoods deserve better. We will make this right. 

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The Indiana Policy Review February 5, 2022 at 1:39 pm Reply

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