Dallas Sanitation Delays Blamed on Worker Shortage

Dallas council member cites recent history of sanitation issues

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The city of Dallas warned residents Wednesday of possible delays in sanitation collection, especially for recycling pick up.

It is the latest challenge for routine service from the Dallas Sanitation Department.

Resident Mark Hollingsed said he already knew something was causing delays.

“Our experience is it was not picked up last week. And it was supposed to be picked up on Tuesday, today being Wednesday. But I believe there’s a truck in the neighborhood so they’re catching up. So, our dumpster is full. I hope they get to it today,” he said.

Acting Sanitation Director Timothy Oliver said it is hard to hire enough workers who are willing to hoist trash containers right now.

“These are important jobs, but with the economy coming out of the pandemic, we’re competing against everyone, private sector, other government entities. We’re competing against everyone to get these people hired and back to work,” Oliver said.

The city currently pays contract sanitation workers $12.38 an hour. The rate will increase to around $15 an hour in August. Oliver said the city is working to increase pay sooner to get more workers on the job.

He said most of the delays will be with recycling collection.

“It’s a minimal impact, typically less than 24 hours. It’s still an impact none the less and the residents are feeling it and we’re working as quickly as we can to fix it,” Oliver said.

A report to a Dallas city council committee earlier this month rated sanitation as one of 6 services on a list of 35 that fail city goals because of too many missed collections.

Dallas City Councilmember Cara Mendelsohn is the leader of that committee.

“We've been having some issues in sanitation for quite some time. In fact, we've been without a Director of Sanitation for a year and a half,” Mendelsohn said.

She mentioned Dallas' bulk trash collection that fell well behind schedule after a round of storms earlier this year.

Oliver said the city hired 50 outside crews with equipment to help tackle that problem and 15 of the crews are still helping.

One Oak Cliff business reported regular trash collection had been missed for weeks.

“We should not be having quite as many challenges as we do,” Mendelsohn said.

The council member said she will ride along with a sanitation crew Thursday to get a better knowledge of the work.

“I want to make sure I’m asking the right questions. I want to make sure I see all the challenges that they are facing,” Mendelsohn said.

Resident Jim Gerik said he does not want the city not to fail on routine trash collection.

“I wouldn’t be happy with it. But I pay my taxes, just like everybody else, and I’d like to have it collected,” he said.

A new Dallas sanitation director has just been hired from Sacramento, California. He starts in Dallas on July 14. Acting director Tim Oliver will stay on as an assistant.

Dallas officials asked that residents report missed trash collection by calling 311 only after it has been longer than two days behind schedule.

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