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Why Phoenix is 'looking a little trashy' and what’s being done about it

By Christina Estes
Published: Wednesday, October 19, 2022 - 5:42pm
Updated: Tuesday, October 25, 2022 - 12:29pm

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bulk trash
Annika Cline/KJZZ
Crews pickup an array of items from furniture to palm fronds during their route.

Phoenix’s bulk trash collection is running about three weeks behind schedule because they don’t have enough workers. 

Vice Mayor Laura Pastor said the message about delayed and rescheduled pick-up is not getting out, and items too big for regular containers like furniture, appliances, and tree and shrub clippings are piling up in alleys and along streets.

“But our city is looking a little trashy,” she said. “No pun intended but neighborhoods — it’s rising, and I see it within my neighborhood.”

Pastor said the updated bulk trash schedule posted by the Public Works Department shows pick-up for her area has been postponed until December but people are used to it being earlier and have already set out large items.  

“We have the issue of roof rats and so now that becomes an issue in our trash and everything else,” she said.

Phoenix has a 20% vacancy rate for solid waste drivers. Public Works Director Joe Giudice told the city’s transportation and infrastructure subcommittee the apprenticeship program is full with seven people, and they recently hired about 20 people.

“If all of them are successfully onboarded, then we should be able to drop our vacancy rate to a manageable level,” he said.

Giudice said solid waste operators who drive collection trucks are working overtime to address the backlog. Pastor said employees are burned out.

“And what I’m hearing from the drivers is other cities are paying more, I have less routes, less stress, and I can have a quality of life with my family," she said.

Phoenix is offering solid waste operators $3,000 to stay and $2,500 for new hires. A citywide compensation study is underway, and many salaries in various departments are expected to increase when the report is finalized in early 2023. In June, the City Council voted to make Phoenix police the highest paid law enforcement agency in Arizona.

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