Fort Wayne residents could soon celebrate another cut to their monthly garbage fees – perhaps with a small cup of coffee or a $1 scratch-off ticket.
Mayor Tom Henry on Wednesday cheered residents who have helped the city’s new recycling program net $1 million in projected savings – money that will go back into their pockets – this year.
“I’m renewing my promise to return those savings to the people of Fort Wayne,” Henry said.
Henry said he will ask City Council in August to pass an ordinance reducing garbage rates by a total of $1 million, or about $1.10 per month for each household. Rates had already been cut by 24 cents per month at the start of 2011.
Under a new garbage contract that took effect in January, the city gets half the revenue produced by selling recycled materials. At the six-month mark, the program has yielded about $234,000 in revenue. That number is projected to reach half a million dollars by the end of the year, said city spokesman Frank Suarez.
The city expects to see an additional $500,000 in savings thanks to more efficient garbage disposal and a cheaper solid waste contract with National Serv-All.
A review of the program’s first six months found that nearly 70 percent of all city residents have opted to participate – more than double earlier estimates of 34 percent – Suarez said.
“I’d like to congratulate all the citizens of Fort Wayne for this tremendous accomplishment,” Henry said.
Bob Kennedy, the city’s director of public works, could not identify areas where participation has been highest, but he said residents citywide have received the program with enthusiasm. The new “single-stream” system makes recycling easier because materials can all go into one bin, he said.
“It’s easier, cleaner, more efficient,” he said.
In 2010, the city sent 95,000 tons of waste to the landfill, but this year that number will drop to between 80,000 and 90,000 tons, Kennedy said.
At least three council members today were expected to announce their support for the rate cut and tout the city’s low garbage fees. Councilwoman Karen Goldner, D-2nd, said a study conducted by a national consulting firm found that Fort Wayne’s rates are among the lowest in the country for cities of its size. The proposed cut would bring the city’s monthly garbage rates to less than $10 per household.
If council approves the cuts, residents could see their rates decrease by September, Kennedy said.