INDIANAPOLIS – A contingent of Fort Wayne officials tired of fielding trash complaints from the public took their case to the legislature Wednesday – pushing a measure that would give them more bidding flexibility for future solid waste contracts.
The House Local Government Committee approved House Bill 1286 by a vote of 9-1. It now moves to the full House.
Rep. Martin Carbaugh, R-Fort Wayne, said the bill would allow cities and counties outside Marion County to use a request-for-proposal process instead of a lowest-bidder process. Marion County already has that right.
Carbaugh said Fort Wayne was forced to choose the lowest bid contractor for trash pickup, and some citizens haven't had their trash picked up since Christmas. The company – Red River Waste Solutions – has now filed bankruptcy.
Fort Wayne City Councilman Tom Didier called it a health and safety issue, saying “Thank God it's not July” and “I'm really wanting the phone calls to end.”
Under current law, Indiana municipalities must open an “invitation to bid” and go with the lowest “responsible and responsive” bidder in public works contracts of $150,000 and more. But Fort Wayne is finding out lowest cost doesn't always mean good service.
Red River has surpassed the contracted maximum missed collections per month about 85% of the time and has been fined more than $6 million over the past four years for not meeting its benchmarks.
Stephanie Crandall, speaking on behalf of Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry, said the city would like to consider things other than cost under a request for proposal.
That might be system reliability, new technology and long-term impacts.
The legislation would allow each city or town to choose which process they would prefer to use.