Mayor, council reach deal on trash and recycling rates

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (ADAMS) – It does look like we will be paying more for our trash and recycling services but not at least until July of next year thanks to money from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

The City says that Mayor Tom Henry’s Administration and City Council reached a compromise to move forward with a solid waste rate plan ordinance and a resolution for the distribution of $10 million in ARPA funds to be used to pay eligible City of Fort Wayne Solid Waste Department expenses.

The ordinance would adjust the monthly single-family residential household solid waste fee from $12 to $15.80 beginning July 1, 2023. On January 1, 2024, the rate would go to $16.51 and include other variables, including the Consumer Price Index. A full rate adjustment is being tiered in over a 30-month period. There will be an adjustment to the rates every six months starting July 1, 2023, until July 1, 2025, and then annually thereafter.

In addition, beginning January 1, 2023, residents with extra garbage bins will pay $4 per month instead of the current $2 per month charge.

Bulk collection would be handled by the City’s Solid Waste Department. Pending final approval from City Council, residents would call 311 to request to have furniture and non-freon appliances collected. Materials would be collected within 48 hours. Also, residents should continue to wrap mattresses and box springs if those items are set out.

The ARPA allocation resolution is assisting with delaying an adjustment to the solid waste rate until July 1, 2023.

Mayor Henry’s office released the following:

“This collaborative effort will help move our community forward in a positive direction,” said Shan Gunawardena, City of Fort Wayne Public Works Director. “The plans we have in place position us for strong fiscal management and the ability to provide excellent garbage and recycling collection services, which our new provider GFL is doing. I want to thank City Council President Jason Arp for his steady leadership on this important matter that we’ve been discussing over the past several months.”

“The Administration and Solid Waste staff have done a wonderful job creating a win-win compromise. The Solid Waste Fund will be solvent, Solid Waste Operations will be fully funded, and the ratepayer will save $2 million versus where we started with the original proposal,” said City Councilman Russ Jehl. “We can all look our constituents in the eye and in good faith say that despite all of the difficulties we have had with trash removal services, the ratepayer is not paying more because of it.”

The solid waste rate has remained the same since 2018. Rates were intended to be adjusted in 2020 but were not due to the service from the previous contractor. The patience and understanding from ratepayers are reflected in the delay and staggered approach to the new rate starting in 2023 which equates to a discount.

A customer’s solid waste bill includes more than the collection of garbage and recycling. The entire solid waste bill includes garbage/recycling collection, garbage disposal, recycling processing, leaf collection, salaries of solid waste staff, cart purchases, fuel/truck payments, utilities, billing, household hazardous waste, neighborhood cleanups, and dumpsters.

Changes to the rate structure are needed to fund current and future solid waste services and ensure the Solid Waste Fund remains stable to meet the solid waste needs of the community.

The updated plans were approved during Tuesday’s committee session at City Council and final approval could be granted at next week’s City Council meeting.