Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry delivered his annual state of the city address Wednesday afternoon where he talked about the future of trash collector Red River Waste Solutions.
For much of the speech, Henry talked about what he considers his proudest accomplishments over the past year, but he acknowledged that not everything is perfect.
“I do recognize, though, we have significant challenges in our community,” Henry said. “There’s no question that garbage and recycling collection is one of those. It hasn’t met your standards, and I take responsibility for that.”
Red River filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last October. For months, complaints about missed pickups have piled up and the mayor says these issues could continue into the next few months.
“We’re doing our best to get out from underneath this and I think we’ll in the next three to four months we’ll be able to accomplish that,” Henry said. “Unfortunately, we don’t have too many options at this point. We’ve gone to other companies and said ‘will you pick up the next three or four months before we put it out to bid and no one has accepted that invitation.”
Red River’s future has been a contentious issue at city council meetings. Republican councilman Russ Jehl has been outspoken on the city’s handling of the trash troubles.
“Certainly, I was disappointed that the mayor didn’t spend more time on really the emergency in front of us,” said Jehl.
Jehl says despite his criticism of how the mayor has handled the problem, he and the mayor both believe the speech was an opportunity for unity.
“My intent is not necessarily to spend the day attacking him on that point. It’s really to emphasize the good things with Fort Wayne,” he said. “We have enough of attack, attack, attack when we look at Washington and Indianapolis.”
Earlier this week, City Corporation Attorney Tim Haffner told the Fort Wayne City Council the city plans to open bids to find a new trash collector next month.
You can view the full State of the City address below: