Councilman Jehl proposes city use ARPA funds to offset need for a solid waste rate increase

Published: Jun. 7, 2022 at 10:48 AM EDT
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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA) - Councilman Russell Jehl (R-Dist. 2) held a press conference Tuesday morning to present an “alternate plan” for payment to the city’s new trash hauler, GFL Environmental, just weeks ahead of the company’s July 1 starting date.

Jehl says currently, no plan has been formally presented by the City administration to city council to pay for GFL’s service or the bailout of the Solid Waste Fund. Jehl says Red River’s failed contract had two and a half years left, and the cost difference for GFL and bulk service will be about $8 million.

RELATED: City Council prepares for GFL to take over as Fort Wayne trash collector

The federal government has given the city $50.8 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to offset the effects of the pandemic on local government. Jehl is proposing that the city use $8 million of those funds to cover the difference in costs between the contracts, saying the increased rates would no longer be necessary. He says currently, GFL’s contract has an increased price tag of $2.85 per month per ratepayer.

“As bad as the bankrupt Red River’s finances are, the finances of Fort Wayne’s Solid Waste Department are even worse,” Jehl said. “ARPA funds should be used to make things right on behalf of the longsuffering Fort Wayne ratepayer, not for the bailout of the Solid Waste Department. It inexplicably spent big while fining Red River so lightly—it consistently defended Red River rather than holding them accountable.”

Jehl says the increased solid waste costs will still need to be addressed regardless of how ARPA funds are used because of inflation. He claims the necessary rate increases due to inflation should be less than the suggested increase by city administration, saying the “Solid Waste fund bailout is the largest driver of the rate increase discussion.”

Tune in tonight at 5 and 6 for a full report on the matter.

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