Mayor Tom Henry, City Councilman Tom Didier, City of Fort Wayne Public Works Division leaders, and Red River Waste Solutions today provided an update on garbage and recycling collection efforts in the City of Fort Wayne and steps that are being taken to improve services to residents and neighborhoods.
Highlights of action items to be implemented:
*Red River has brought in additional drivers to cover collection routes.
*Red River has a full-time recruiter in Fort Wayne in the company’s efforts to attract and then retain additional drivers. Driver shortages being experienced across the country have impacted the current number of employees at Red River.
*Red River is analyzing route and collection data in efforts to enhance efficiencies.
*Red River is partnering with Ivy Tech Community College-Northeast and Northeast Indiana Works to grow the candidate pool of potential employees through recruitment and training efforts.
*The City and Red River are exploring using CDL-trained drivers employed by the City to assist on an as-needed basis. This work would be done outside of regular City business hours and at the expense of Red River.
*Red River is exploring partnering with area vendors to assist with collection efforts until the company is at full-staff.
“We expect more and are demanding more from Red River,” said Mayor Henry. “We’re focused on and committed to ensuring Red River provides the best and most reliable services possible. I understand the frustration that many people are feeling right now. Meeting the basic needs of our residents and neighborhoods is critical to Fort Wayne’s success. We’re going to make this right. By working together, we can make a meaningful difference and restore the public’s trust in the garbage and recycling process in our City.”
“I want to be part of coming up with positive solutions to this situation,” said Councilman Didier. “We must serve our residents well. They deserve the best. We can do that by committing to seeing this contract through with sensible solutions. I believe that negativity isn’t going to help us get out of the challenge we’re in. Let’s come together to make this right. Our community deserves nothing less.”
The City Administration today also indicated it will not pursue a declaration of material default at this time against Red River. The City doesn’t believe the contractor has met the threshold for a material default. Past examples from other jurisdictions have shown that numerous factors may determine how material defaults occur. Examples have included a provider abandoning the duties of collecting any materials and not meeting payroll to name a few.
City Council has introduced a non-binding resolution that states Red River is in substantial breach and/or material default of its contract with the City. The resolution doesn’t result in formal action being taken by the Council. It’s a statement of the view of the situation only by those members who sign the resolution.
To find a company in material default isn’t a one-step or simple process. There are a number of factors that would have to be analyzed. A default designation could have the potential to lead to legal fees being incurred by the City and increased costs to customers through a different collection contractor. A court would likely determine if a material default has occurred.
The City’s Solid Waste Department as part of the Public Works Division oversees the contract and is in daily communication with Red River and regular communication with neighborhood partnerships and associations and elected officials. The department continues proactive outreach to residents and neighborhoods and is committed to providing the best services possible to the public. In addition, 311 is in daily communication with the department about residents’ reports of service concerns.
The City continues to fine Red River for not meeting certain benchmarks as outlined in the garbage and recycling contract. A $15,000 fine was assessed in April, $63,950 in May, and $92,800 in June. Fines for July haven’t been finalized. The fine structure is similar to fines that were assessed to the previous garbage and recycling collection provider for the City. These funds are put into the Solid Waste Fund to provide for neighborhood clean-ups and to reduce the need for future rate increases.
Questions and concerns about missed pickups can be addressed by calling 311. Residents are also encouraged to visit www.cityoffortwayne.org and click on the 311 icon to download the 311 mobile app and submit a concern without having to call 311.