ST. LOUIS – St. Louis residents have flooded FOX 2 with calls and emails complaining about a lack of service they pay for.
The head of Streets, Traffic, and Refuse says she’s frustrated, too. She doesn’t deny there’s a lot the city has to do to clean up.
People on Taft Avenue near Morgan Ford showed us their alleyway filled with garbage despite a recent pickup. The refuse department didn’t get it all. The outside of dumpsters remains littered with an overflow that built up over weeks without trash service.
“Oh, it’s just a mess back there. The trash and stuff just piled up back there. It looks so nasty,” said Tilwanda Smith.
On Thursday, FOX 2 showed you how our visit to the trash truck parking lot found broken-down trucks and few mechanics. It felt like a ghost town with nobody to talk to. A message on one broken-down truck seemed to say it all: “For Sale – $1.”
The next day, Betherny Williams, the director of the city’s Streets, Traffic, and Refuse Division, acknowledged what we saw first-hand.
“The number of working trucks has been low all week,” she said.
Williams said only about half of the 50 necessary garbage trucks were working this week.
“Starting Monday,” she said, “we will start a second shift of mechanics, so the trucks will be repaired in the evening and ready for driving on the next morning.”
Williams said they also need drivers and that they will continue paying a $3,000 signing bonus.
“We are doing the best we can with the fleet we have and the number of drivers we have at this time,” she said.
The city says other solutions include hiring a private contractor who is helping the refuse department with smarter strategies, like giving more attention to areas with more trash. The city is also planning on buying new trash trucks.
“We know it is a problem and just as much as this is a problem for the citizens, I’m a citizen, and it’s a problem across the city because of the amount of trash we are seeing,” Williams said. “Those pictures are sent to me every day and I forward them and I share them. I’m driving around the alleys trying to figure out how can we better collect this.”
Williams also said St. Louis has to figure out how to change another category in which she said we rank first—amount of trash generated—when compared to cities our size.
St. Louis is also dealing with illegal dumpers and vandals. The city says people are stealing dumpster hooks, which allows the truck to pick up the container. Williams says hundreds of the hooks have been stolen recently and they can’t pick up the dumpster without them.
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