Council cuts money from Mayor’s budget hoping to send message about Red River issues

Fort Wayne City Council
Fort Wayne City Council(Fort Wayne's NBC)
Published: Oct. 26, 2021 at 11:17 PM EDT
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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Fort Wayne’s NBC) - The Fort Wayne City Council voted to pass a Public Works Department budget cut as a way to hold the city administration accountable.

The council voted 6-3 Tuesday night to cut $150,000 from the Public Works Department budget.

MORE: Red River leaders failed to show up to city council despite their request

“Tonight we took the extraordinary measure of indirectly using the power of the purse,” Councilman Russ Jehl said.

Council members who voted to pass that budget cut, are calling it ‘the power of the purse’ as a way to try and push the Mayor’s office to focus on the problems with trash collection.

Red River Waste Solutions recently filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy.

“The administration refusing to focus on this has enabled Red River to languish and perform poor service,” Jehl said. “Our solid waste department has not been on time of it. It’s time for the city administration to get on top of it.”

The Solid Waste Department oversees Red River but city council doesn’t control their budget.

However, council does have approval over the Public Works budget.

Jehl says they are going to withhold the funding from the Public Works Department until the city administration takes the issues with Red River seriously.

“We’re not fully funding public works until the city administration gets serious,” Jehl said.

Jehl says it’s a form of leverage on the city administration and the council wants to see several changes before reinstating those funds.

He says he wants the Mayor’s office to give the council a detailed contingency plan should Red River fold.

Several council members also expressed their disappointment in the Solid Waste Department’s leadership and Jehl says they are calling for a new director.

Jehl says the current leadership should have seen Red River’s financial troubles coming.

MORE: Data shows number of missed Red River trash pick ups are on the rise

Spokesperson for the Mayor John Perlich says that’s not something they are considering right now.

Perlich says he believes the Mayor has been taking the issues with Red River seriously.

“He is concerned about it at a very high level and has been engaged in it on a daily basis,” Perlich said. “At the current time, garbage and recycling continue to be collected. That’s the main thing. We are prepared with different plans should something change.”

Perlich says he is disappointed the council decided to pull funds from the Public Works and he is concerned it will impact upcoming projects.

Stay with Fort Wayne’s NBC for updates on this developing story

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