Fort Wayne Mayor and City Council work to change tendering process in light of Red River issues


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FORT WAYNE, Indiana (WANE) – In January 2018, Red River began picking up trash in Fort Wayne after submitting the lowest bid from several trash haulage companies. But after years of missed pickups, Mayor Tom Henry and Fort Wayne City Council have agreed to work together to change the tendering process.

A resolution is expected to be presented to city council on Tuesday, January 11. The resolution calls on the Indiana General Assembly to amend state law to allow municipalities to use a request for proposal process for solid waste and recycling services.

Currently, Indiana code 36-9-30 requires that these contracts be awarded to the lowest responsible and compliant bidder. The City believes it could better serve its residents if it could use the tendering process (RFP) to award solid waste and recycling collection and disposal services instead of a recycling process. lowest bid.

“The bidding process allows us to work with companies to find out that there may be ideas that are outside the box that we just haven’t considered, that our specifications don’t address.” said Stephanie Crandall, the city’s director of intergovernmental affairs. “Then companies can come up with these solutions. And we can hopefully get a better product and service provided to our residents. “

The resolution formally calls on state lawmakers who represent the residents of Fort Wayne to introduce and support legislation allowing local governments to contract for solid waste collection and recycling services through an application process. proposals.

WANE 15 contacted Mayor Henry’s administration for further explanation.

The RFP process is currently only used in Indianapolis, but the bill, drafted by State Representative Martin Carbaugh (R-Fort Wayne), would implement it in all towns and cities of the state. This would still allow local governments to choose the lowest bidder if they so choose, but it does not force them to go down that route.

“We want to take low cost options to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars, but obviously we want to have good service as well,” Carbaugh said. “When you look at what’s been going on here over the last, well, really since the current supplier took over, we’ve had some issues along the way, including this week for me personally. “

This is the second time that Carbaugh has proposed a bill like this. The first, presented to the general assembly in 2014, passed through the State House but died in the State Senate. Carbaugh and his co-sponsor, parliamentary minority leader Phil GiaQuinta (D-Fort Wayne) are optimistic he will do better this time around.

“I think we have real life examples here in Fort Wayne of why this process seems to make sense,” Carbaugh said. “This is something Indianapolis uses, there would be no reason in my mind not to have the same option or the same communities statewide. “

According to GiaQuinta, the consistency of complaints against the waste department could help their case.

“Just because of the uproar of controversy, if you will, about the current state of garbage collection here in Fort Wayne, it may have a better chance of passing and going through the Senate this time.” , said GiaQuinta. “He might be the number one rider, to be honest.”

State Senator Liz Brown (R-Fort Wayne) was on city council during the last attempt to change the law. Although she plans to support the effort, she is not convinced that her passage would prevent a repeat of the Red River.

“What I think people need to understand is that if you’ve genuinely delivered on the contract, this is the most responsive lowest contract and you are doing your due diligence, then the lowest bid. can work, ”Brown said. “That being said, they are asking the legislature to change it so that they are allowed to go through a request for proposal process and I agree with that. As long as, again, they’re very mindful of our dollars as well, because we’re ultimately the ones paying for it right here in the town of Fort Wayne.

However, time could prove to be an obstacle. The current legislative session is shorter, which means the bill will need to be passed by the House and Senate by March 1 if they want it to be enacted this year. The reach beyond the limits of Fort Wayne adds additional risk to the effort.

“If there are [cities] that would preclude it, yes you might see problems, ”said GiaQuinta. “Sometimes it’s a little easier to tell a city apart, but if you can also explain the benefits of doing something like this [to] other towns and villages, and now, in fact, they can also request it.

If the bill does not get through this session, they will have to wait until 2023 to try again.

The city said Fort Wayne’s current waste and recycling contracts would not be affected.

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