By Lisa Esquivel Long
FORT WAYNE — Representatives of the city of Fort Wayne are scheduled to attend Tuesday night’s City Council committee meeting as the council members continue to take calls from residents upset over missed trash and recycling pickups.
The council members expressed disappointment at the Nov. 27 committee meeting that no one from garbage and recycling contractor Red River Waste Solutions nor the city administration was in attendance.
Red River was the low bidder of $6.96 million for the city’s garbage and recycling contract and began providing services Jan. 2. However, over the months the company has repeatedly picked up some customers’ trash late or not at all. One reason, it says, is its inability to find or keep drivers in this robust economy.
City representatives will be at the Dec 4 meeting for the Red River update, according to city spokesman John Perlich.
Councilman Geoff Paddock, D-5th, expected that council would give them some “sharp questioning.”
Paddock was getting ready Friday evening to answer another round of messages from his constituents over missed pickups when he learned that Red River was on the next council agenda.
“I do spend a lot of time on this issue,” Paddock said. “…The last time I spoke to their local director they were trying to get the slots filled with their truck drivers.”
However, Red River sounds to be in a Catch-22 situation. It’s losing drivers who fear that the city may pull the contract, and they’ll be out of a job, Paddock said, but that’s not something he wants to see happen.
“We have no desire to end the contract if they do their job.”
He was hoping to talk to Workforce Development or Ivy Tech Community College about ways to help Red River fill the vacancies.
Mayor Tom Henry said in a statement in June, “We expect better results from Red River.”
The city said then that it had fined Red River $15,000 in April and more than $50,000 in May because of failures to comply.
However, missed and delayed pickups continued while the administration wanted to give Red River a chance to improve its service. Then in August, council voted Red River in breach of contract. That month the mayor formed the Working Group on Garbage and Recycling, made up of members of council, neighborhood leaders/residents, city staff members and Red River representatives.
Out of that came new routes that began Nov. 5, designed to increase the efficiency of pickups. The mayor also asked the group to look into a possible refund for customers. In mid-November council members introduced a nonbinding resolution that said customers should get a refund.
Paddock might be among them.
“I’ll go home in a half-hour and see if they’ve picked up my trash,” he said.
Council will meet in committee at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 4 in Room 30 of Citizens Square, 200 E. Berry St. Anyone wishing to speak must contact the city clerk or committee chairman in advance. The meetings are live-streamed at www.cityoffortwayne.org/meetings.html and are also available for viewing later.
Missed pickups can be reported by calling 311. Residents can also visit www.cityoffortwayne.org and click on the 311 icon to download the 311 mobile app and submit a concern.
See www.acimap.us/trashdaylookup to find your pickup day.