Council Again Weighs In On Troubled Garbage Collection

Sep 27, 2018

Credit Red River Waste Solutions

Fort Wayne’s troubled garbage collection and solid waste management provider Red River was again a focus of discussion during City Council’s meeting Tuesday night.

At-large councilman John Crawford says he was hiking in New Mexico receiving “desperate” calls from constituents about failed garbage pickups two weeks ago.

“These are people that didn’t get picked up, they call 311, they call 311, they call 311, anywhere between five and ten times… and still nobody came the next day,” said Crawford.

Crawford also noted city funds used in the selection process prior Red River becoming Fort Wayne’s new solid waste management provider back in May, 2017. He specifically mentioned a $98,447 contract with Gershman, Brickner and Bratton for consultation work ahead of the selection.

“For that, we got a contract with no definition of breach? I mean, I’m not a lawyer but wouldn’t that be the first thing you’d put in a contract? A contract is for what happens when something goes wrong,” he said.

The definition of “breach” within the contract between Red River and the City has been a source of debate between City Council and mayor Tom Henry.

On August 21, Henry reaffirmed his support for the beleaguered company, calling its learning curve “significant” and offering to partner on developing solutions to existing problems. He pushed back against the idea of a breach of contract.

City attorney Carol Helton said a material default -- legalese for “breach” in this instance -- has only been upheld in court when contractors abandoned jurisdictions entirely or failed to meet payroll. Neither of which has taken place with Red River in Fort Wayne.

But Crawford calls the continued problems “unacceptable,” adding he doesn’t know how much longer the City should give Red River to “get their act together.” His sentiments were shared openly by fellow council members Russ Jehl and Tom Freistroffer.