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Fort Wayne City Council threatens to subpoena Red River CEO

ABC21 News at 5
Published: Nov. 10, 2021 at 5:44 PM EST
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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA) - It’s been almost a month since Fort Wayne’s trash hauler, Red River Waste Solutions, filed for Bankruptcy and city council members are unhappy.

At Tuesday night’s council meeting, members demanded answers from the CEO of Red River, James Smith.

“What we have learned over the past four years is sitting around waiting for the next bad thing to happen is a poor strategy,” Councilman Russ Jehl said.

Jehl and other members Tuesday night invited the CEO to talk with council directly. If he doesn’t, they’re willing to subpoena him.

“Last week at the Solid Waste Advisory Board I was flabbergasted to learn that very few, if any, high level conversations between city officials and Red River have taken place in two years until the bankruptcy was announced in which case almost all of those conversations have happened through attorneys,” Jehl said.

Jehl said he’s worried about what the future could hold, which is why he believes action is needed sooner rather than later.

“We’re concerned that the performance bond might lapse at the end of the year and so we don’t want to just wait around for that to happen,” Jehl said. “We want to initiate as many high level discussions as possible.”

“The City Administration is aware of the request by City Council to Red River. Garbage and recycling materials continue to be collected in the City of Fort Wayne. The Solid Waste Department is committed to providing the best customer service possible to the 83,300 households that are serviced each week. Our top priority is to ensure that collections continue. It’s vital to meet the needs of our solid waste ratepayers. We appreciate and value how residents and neighborhoods continue to partner with us. City leaders are also being proactive in the development of contingency plans in order to have alternatives in place if the recent Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings from Red River impact the City.”

John Perlich, City of Fort Wayne Director of Public Information

“Most likely rates would be very high if there needed to be a change,” Jehl said. “That’s why letting Red River dictate the terms through bankruptcy has not been to our benefit.”

In the end, Jehl says he hopes Red River Leaders will come to the table and talk.

“I’ve seen a lot of defaults over my professional years and you don’t even need to talk about the defaults,” Jehl said. “You just have to look the guy in the eyes to know where he’s headed.”

We reached out to Red River for a response. A representative said they are not commenting at this time.

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