Waynedale Political Commentaries




Inclusive process results in easier opportunities for recycling

You may have heard a lot in the news lately about the City of Fort Wayne’s efforts to negotiate a new garbage contract. On Tuesday, September 7, the City Council considered and debated the four contracts that compose the garbage collection program for Fort Wayne residents. This is the first time garbage collection has ever been split up this way, and it created an enormous win for all of us! To better understand how we got here, I want to take a minute to explain what made this contract process so successful and a model for future City negotiations.

Trash and recycling removal is one of the basic services residents expect of City government. Therefore, it was critical to me that we make the process of selecting a vendor as inclusive and open as possible. I asked our staff to create a Solid Waste Contract Committee to review the current programs and help create the bid specifications that were released this past summer. The committee comprised neighborhood leaders, Council members and City employees in order to provide the most comprehensive and resident-focused perspective.

The committee deserves a big “thank you” for taking its task so seriously and doing so much work to bring the best opportunities to the community.

Solid Waste Contract Committee Members:

Adrienne Mauer – Southwest Neighborhood Partnership Chair

Bill Crowley – Southeast Neighborhood Partnership Chair

David Kohli – Northeast Neighborhood Partnership Chair

Rod Vargo – Northwest Neighborhood Partnership Co-Chair

Liz Brown –City Council Member – At-large

Karen Goldner – City Council Member –

2nd District

Glynn Hines – City Council Member – 6th District

Bob Kennedy – Director of Public Works

Matt Gratz – Solid Waste Program Manager

The committee created a website where residents could see what was happening at all the meetings, which were open to the public, as well as provide input and fill out an online survey regarding services. This site is still available for viewing at www.cityoffortwayne.org/publicworks/solid-waste-management.html

Like Fort Wayne, cities across the country have involved neighborhoods with the garbage and refuse collection but have kept several of the meetings closed to the public. I chose to keep the entire process open to the public, knowing that garbage and recycling issues touch every neighborhood in our community. Solid Waste Management Consultants, Gershman, Brickner & Bratton, Inc., told me they believe this is the first time in the country that the entire process was open to the public. I’m very proud of that accomplishment.

In looking at the contracts, the Committee felt that we could open up competition for our services and get lower costs by unbundling the collection contracts from the disposal and processing contracts. In the past, the entire garbage and recycling services were bid as one package. This time it was bid as Garbage Collection (picking it up at your street), Garbage Disposal (taking it to the land fill), Recycling Collection (picking it up at your street), both Dual Stream (our current system with the brown and yellow bins) and Single Stream (a system with one larger bin for all recyclables), and a contract for processing Recyclables.  By doing this, it provided more companies the opportunity to bid.

The Committee recommended low bidder Republic (known locally as National Serv-All) for all four pieces of the contract. Republic’s bid price this year is roughly $300,000 lower than what we are currently paying for those services. The contract term for all 4 contracts is 7 years with 3 possible 1-year extensions.

Residents will not see any changes with respect to their garbage collection services. However, we are recommending the City switch its recycling services to a single stream form of collection. This is where residents will receive a wheeled cart with a lid, similar to the trash bin, for their recyclables. They will no longer have to separate their recycling into the brown and yellow bins. They will now just put all the recyclables into the one recycling cart.  This form of collection should make it easier for residents to recycle while helping to keep the neighborhoods clean. Since the carts have lids, it should help to limit the amount of recyclables that blow out of containers. We hope these changes will increase participation in the City’s recycling program.

In addition, for those residents with alley collection for garbage, they will now set their recycling carts in the alley for collection, rather than leaving recycling at the curb.

Once approved, this contract will go into effect January 1, 2011. City residents will begin receiving information in November about how the new process works.

I believe we’ve come up with a successful garbage contract that will deliver a vital service at a competitive price. This contract reflects my commitment to reducing costs, providing quality service and strengthening our neighborhoods.

Tom Henry - Fort Wayne Mayor

A lifelong Fort Wayne resident, Mayor Thomas C. Henry is committed to public and community service. He was elected to his first term as Fort Wayne's Mayor November 6, 2007. Mayor Henry authors the "Message from the Mayor" column. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer