JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville City Council on Tuesday night approved using $4 million in COVID-19 relief funds to help address the trash issue affecting some neighborhoods in Duval County.
The vote was 18-0 in favor. That money would be used to pay for a new yard waste transfer site on Philips Highway and pay for recycling drop-off points for the public. The bill is an emergency service agreement.
A labor shortage involving drivers has caused yard debris and other garbage to continue pile up in some areas.
Ronnie Burris is the business manager of the Laborers’ International Union of North America Local 630. The union represents pubic works employees in Jacksonville and Nassau County, as well as many other municipalities in the state.
“They do a hard job. It’s not a glorified Job. They are picking up garbage,” Burris said.
Some of the workers have offered to the do the job seven days a week.
Burris says that the problem is that many of them can make much more money elsewhere. Burris says workers on the back of trucks make about $34,000 a year and the drivers make around $43,000.
He adds that other companies are offering a bigger paycheck.
“The municipalities just don’t pay enough to keep these CDL drivers,” Burris said. “You can go to work at Amazon, you can go to work at a Walmart distribution center, you can go to work at all these other different places that pay a whole lot more money than what the city can.”
That means we could continue to see waste pile up along at the ends of some driveways. That’s frustrating to Mike Chamberlin, who lives in the Fort Caroline area.
“What are we paying for? I understand there is a labor shortage, but you got to get somebody out here,” Chamberlin said.
According to Mayor Lenny Curry, the solution for now is suspending recycling and putting more focus on garbage and yard waste.
Starting Monday, residents in Duval County can throw recycling waste in with regular garbage, or they can take it to one of 14 designated spots in the city.