$2.7M For New Recycling Containers, 2011 Budget Talks, Marty Bender Update

By John W. Davis

October 19, 2010 Updated Oct 19, 2010 at 9:53 PM EST

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) - Fort Wayne City Council approved a purchase order to spend up to $2.7M on new recycling containers with Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags.

Meanwhile, council members also discussed the city's 2011 budget.

Some council members specifically targeted a controversial 1% pay raise for non-union city workers, as their main point of contention.

The 1% raise is expected to cost $843,010.

Although that is only a fraction of the city's $135 million dollar property tax funded budget, some council members said they are ready to vote against the 2011 budget.

Republican Councilwoman Liz Brown said if the 1% pay raise was dropped from the budget, she would cast her vote to approve the 2011 budget.

"I've been talking with a lot of people in my district, neighborhood meetings, partnership meetings, and a lot of people are not in favor of a pay raise at this time and I'm taking note of that," said Fort Wayne Republican Councilman Tom Smith.

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Meanwhile, council members voted 6-2 approving that the Fort Wayne could spend up to $2.7 million dollars on new recycling containers.

The two council members who voted against the ordinance were Republicans Liz Brown and Mitch Harper.

"It seems to me sometimes we take the path of least resistance and that's what we did. It was easier to stay with the same company that's already providing the containers to us and they may have been the better quality. I didn't see any evidence tonight. No one ever answered that question," said Fort Wayne Republican Councilwoman Liz Brown.

If the city spends all $2.7M that will equal 65% resident recycling participation.

Right now, less than 35% of residents participate in the city's recycling program.

The new containers will allow residents to throw all recycling into one container.

City leaders hope making it easier to recycle will increase resident participation.

The new recycling containers will come in 96 and 48 gallon sizes and will also have Radio Frequency Identification tags.

The RFID tags will cost 80 cents each and will allow the city to track recycling usage and track stolen containers.

City leaders hope to be able to use the data to target which communities need more education about the benefits of recycling.

"Only tags will be on the recycling carts. None on the garbage carts currently. It's not a pay as you throw or pay as how much people throw trash away. Trash is still unlimited but we are encouraging people to recycle more," said Fort Wayne Public Works Director Bob Kennedy.

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Meanwhile, Fort Wayne City Clerk Sandy Kennedy said she visited Council President Marty Bender at the hospital Monday morning.

Kennedy said Bender seemed like "the same old Marty".

She also said Bender was eager to watch Monday's City Council meeting.

No word on when Bender will be released.

On Tuesday, October 26, council members will vote on the 2011 budget.

If Bender is not at the meeting, the budget vote could end in a 4-4 tie.

That would mean the budget would not be approved.




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