The Fort Wayne City Council unanimously approved a series of garbage and recycling collection contracts with Red River Waste Solutions that includes a rate increase for City Utilities customers.
Beginning Jan. 1, rates will increase to $12 per month from the existing $9.95 for single-family homes. Residences with two to four units will see rates increase to $24 per month from the existing $19.90. The owner of any dwelling with more than four units will have to arrange private garbage collection service, said Matt Gratz, the city's solid waste manager.
Red River is based in Austin, Texas.
Although Red River will handle garbage and recycling collection, landfill and recycling processing services will still be handled by Republic Services.
Garbage and recycling fees have not increased in 11 years, said Kira Blacketor, deputy director of Public Works.
“The only reason we're having this increase is because the cost to provide the services increased,” Blacketor said.
“And also we have avoided raising fees for the past seven years by spending down the surplus we had in the solid waste fund.”
The garbage and recycling collection contracts are for $4.9 million and $2 million, respectively. The recycling processing contract is for $885,000 and allows Republic to keep 25 percent of the proceeds generated.
The city's existing landfill contract with Republic was recently extended for three more years. The new contracts will last seven years, with an option to extend for three more.
“We got an extremely good deal with the current contract we're operating on,” Blacketor said. “We would have liked for Republic to extend that collection contract, but for them it was not lucrative enough, so they made the choice not to do that, too.”
Blacketor said residents can expect the same level of service provided under the city's existing contract. Residents will still be able to put out as much trash as necessary, as long as it is properly packaged, and collection of bulk items will continue without added fees, Blacketor said.
The residential garbage fee went from $7.20 per month in 1998 to $9.75 in 2004. The fees increased to $11.24 per month in 2008, but dropped to $11 in 2011. The fee dropped again later that year to $9.95 per month.
Speaking to the council, officials from Red River Waste Solutions emphasized their commitment to efficiency and providing residents with the same level of service.
Although the firm will bring in some administrative employees from outside the area, Red River plans to hire local workers, said David Cooper, vice president of business development for Red River Waste Solutions.
“We will come up with a very, very aggressive outreach program to reach out to the city, the folks in this community, to go to work for Red River,” Cooper said.
“We will have a job fair, we're going to do lots of things, but all individuals that are currently doing this work will be offered first right of refusal to become part of the Red River team.”