Mayor: If trash not collected, give it a day

Posted 3/30/22

If your recycling or trash isn’t picked up on the day scheduled, just wait a day and it will be.

That was Mayor Frank Picozzi’s advice Tuesday as he announced the city would make …

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Mayor: If trash not collected, give it a day


If your recycling or trash isn’t picked up on the day scheduled, just wait a day and it will be.

That was Mayor Frank Picozzi’s advice Tuesday as he announced the city would make pickups six days a week for the foreseeable future. Further along, he said, the city may adopt a program of collecting recyclables every other week. But that hasn’t been decided yet.

For now, Picozzi is focused on maintaining collections in the face of a diminished fleet of trucks without having crews on the road until 8 and 9 p.m. On Monday, only four of the 14 truck fleet was operable. The issue, the mayor explained, is the backorder on parts and lack of new trucks even if the city was prepared to order them.

Currently, the city covers seven recycling and trash collection routes daily, five days a week. With the addition of Saturday to the schedule, daily collections will be reduced to six routes Monday through Friday and five routes on Saturday. With fewer routes daily, Picozzi looks for crews to complete runs earlier. Another factor that has to be considered is the closing of the state landfill at 3:30 p.m. Unless trucks dump loads before the landfill closes, they are forced to halt collecting a route once full. To avoid such situations, the mayor planned on using the privately operated transfer station on Jefferson Boulevard as backup. That did not work since city refuse would get mixed with the contractor’s refuse, and the city would lose its preferred municipal  dumping rate at the landfill.

Could reducing the daily routes from seven to six and extending collection days reduce overtime?

Picozzi said the administration is working on a staggered system of staffing, but he doesn’t envision it as significantly reducing overtime costs.

The mayor said the administration considered many options including the use of private contractors to maintain the “normal day” of collections. Ultimately, until more of the fleet is up and running -- or the city is able to acquire more trucks -- the decision was made to extend collections into Saturday.

As the day of actual collections is somewhat of a moving target based on the number of operable trucks, Picozzi advises, “put it (recyclables and trash) out on the normal day (for collections) and just leave it out there (until collected).” He does not expect collections to be delayed more than one day.

As the city uses packer trucks that are hand feed for yard waste, those collections that are also made on the normal pickup day aren’t affected. Picozzi said he didn’t imagine yard waste collections would be an issue at this time of year. “We don’t have problems until the fall,” he said.

The city’s aging fleet of “one armed bandits,” the trucks with hydraulic arms to lift and dump recyclables and trash, has been a problem since Picozzi took office. The city did not have a program of replacing the trucks and during the prior administration looked to buy used trucks as it phased out even older trucks. Initially, Picozzi looked to implement a plan of lease purchasing two trucks a year and then learned the fleet was in even worse shape than thought. As it takes more than a year from when a truck is ordered until it is built and delivered, Picozzi acted quickly when a mid-western firm didn’t follow through on a truck it ordered. Also, two trucks that the city ordered soon after Picozzi took office are now part of the fleet.

In addition to getting parts, Picozzi said the Division of Sanitation faces a shortage of drivers.

“If we had all 14 (trucks) we wouldn’t have enough (drivers),” he said. Driver vacancies have been left unfilled because of the shortage of trucks.

An option that calculated to save 25 percent in fuel costs and reduce wear and tear on trucks is every other week collections of recyclables. Picozzi noted the city once had every other week collections for glass and plastics (the blue bin) and paper and cardboard (the green bin). When recycling collections became mixed either bin could be used. As residents have two bins, Picozzi thinks that should be sufficient for two weeks of recyclables.

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