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Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett

The chorus of complaints over Terre Haute’s 20-year trash contract with Republic Services has quieted recently. That’s according to Mayor Duke Bennett. The long-term contract was signed by a previous administration just two weeks before Bennett took office last year.

“You know, we just inherited it. You have to work with it; you’ve got to make it happen. What we struggled with upfront was just to implement it. Every single complaint that we’ve received in here, we’ve found some solution for them and some are still in process,” he said.

The city currently pays Republic more than $186,000 a month. Bennett says he’s unsure if he would have signed the contract himself, but says he’s working within the confines on the contract because breaking the agreement would’ve resulted in fines and possible legal ramifications.

“If you look back, very few places have that long of a contract. I don’t like signing that long of contract because so many things can change,” Bennett said. “You won’t see me personally endorsing very many long term contracts because there’s so many factors out of your control that can happen.”

Bennett also filed papers in Vigo County last month showing contributions made to his campaign in 2008. Among those donations was a 15-hundred dollar contribution by Republic Trash. Bennett says that doesn’t represent a conflict of interest.

“I never put myself in a position to accept any money from anybody that has any strings attached. And in that case, absolutely not,” Bennett said. “And nobody’s ever asked me that for any contribution too. That’s another myth that’s goes on sometimes; people make a lot of assumptions.”

Bennett made his comments on WFIU’s “Ask the Mayor” program.

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