AP NEWS

Jehl wants part-time liaison in Solid Waste Department

February 20, 2019

A letter being circulated among Fort Wayne City Council members will ask the city’s solid waste department to add a part-time employee to act as a liaison between the department and 311 as residents continue to experience problems with trash collection.

The letter, written by Councilman Russ Jehl, R-2nd and addressed to Solid Waste Manager Matt Gratz, outlines three major ongoing issues: the number of complaints received about missed collections, a lack of confirmation that misses are collected in a timely manner and the same homes being missed with regularity.

Jehl described the letter tonight as a friendly request. 

“The resident has called 311, they’ve talked to (solid waste) staff, and now they’re contacting us, concerned why the service they ware paying for is not being fulfilled,” a draft version of the letter states. “When we are contacted, the resident deserves to know their garbage will be picked up. The solid waste staff has been excellent in working with council to get these misses collected, however not all reports are acted on by Red River in a timely manner.” 

Texas-based Red River Waste Solutions took over the 7-year trash and recycling collection contract in January 2018. From the outset, residents experienced issues with missed collections. In 2018, the company was fined a total of $1,014,900 for missed garbage collections alone. Red River was not fined for misses that occurred between January and March 2018. 

The temporary, part-time employee would cost roughly $3,000 a month, Jehl said Tuesday, and would be paid out of fines collected from Red River. That person would “take these calls and emails, act as a liaison with (solid waste) staff and 311, with access to (solid waste) database and tracking systems,” the letter states. The employee would also follow up each day on the calls city council members have received. 

“This will give us the ability to follow up and provide the level of service residents expect and deserve,” the letter states.  

Jehl said he has given letter to his fellow City Council members and hopes to deliver it to Gratz next week.

Should the request for a part-time employee be rebuffed, Jehl said he is working to identify a way to legislatively address the situation. 

dgong@jg.net