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Fort Wayne anticipates it may be able to contract new garbage collection company mid-year

Rebecca Green/WBOI News

City attorneys met with City Council Tuesday night to discuss the state of garbage collection in Fort Wayne.

Tim Haffner told the Council he's encouraged by how bankruptcy talks have been going with Red River, but he expects it could still be awhile before a new provider can step in.

"Any subsequent provider we would select compliant with public bidding laws is going to require a certain period of time in order to be prepared to take over the market, have the equipment necessary and acquire the workforce necessary to implement that," Haffner said. "Probably four to six months would be a reasonable expectation."

In the meantime, Red River and the city will continue to be responsible for collection. He added that the city is already encouraging current Red River drivers to stay in Fort Wayne with whichever new contractor steps in when that time comes.

Haffner also says that given these circumstances, when it comes to choosing a provider, they will not be obligated to accept the lowest possible bid for the contract. This has largely been seen as an issue with Red River, as they were the lowest bidder on this seven-year contract in 2017.

2nd District councilman Russ Jehl – who called the meeting with the city’s attorneys last week – says that’s not what he was hoping to hear.

"There’s a lot of stuff that’s being missed, and when it’s missed we point ask for basic things like a miss list, some sort of quality controls," Jehl said. "And if we’re stuck with Red River for another six months, it’d be really naive to think that all the sudden the garbage will get picked up.” 

Haffner also acknowledged backed up service, noting that Red River is only one day behind and is hopeful to be back at full strength and caught up at the end of the week.

However, Council expressed skepticism on that, noting several constituents that have called with complaints that they had not yet had their garbage picked up in 2022.

Zach joined 89.1 WBOI as a reporter and local host for All Things Considered, and hosted Morning Edition for the past few years. In 2022, he was promoted to Content Director.