About half-a-day per week.
That’s the average amount of paid time off that members of the city’s trash service receive through an incentive program that caught the eye of an auditor earlier this year.
A new report out of City Hall has found that loaders and operators of the solid waste service are receiving about six to eight hours of paid time off every two weeks under a program that allows those employees to leave early if all trash crews have completed collections for the day.
“I’m glad that we’re keeping track of the information,” said City Manager David Corliss. “It allows you to see how much less than eight hours they are working, and at this point I don’t think it is inappropriate given the demands of their jobs and the service they are providing.”
The city’s auditor, who highlighted the incentive program in a January audit, applauded the city for following his recommendation to more clearly track the amount of paid time off issued through the program.
“There are good reasons to use the incentive, but we ought to be in a position to answer the questions that come up from citizens about just how large the incentive is,” said Michael Eglinski, city auditor.
City management has said the incentive system is valuable because it gives employees added motivation to complete their work in an efficient manner. The program allows an employee to leave early only if all trash routes have been completed, and if the employee’s supervisor believes that the employee worked in an efficient and safe manner.
City commissioners will receive the report at their 6:35 p.m. meeting today at City Hall. Other items from the report include:
• The city has begun testing new trash trucks that rely on greater amounts of automation. The city has used trucks from two different vendors to determine whether the city could reduce crew sizes or find other ways to more efficiently pick up residential trash. Corliss said the city is still reviewing the information.
• Trash crews have begun a program to weigh how much yard waste they collect. The January audit questioned whether the city had accurate totals of the amount of yard waste collected, and thus whether the city had an accurate estimate of the city’s overall recycling rate. Trash trucks once per month are now weighing their loads before they dump the yard waste. On a more limited basis, a crew is weighing some yard waste containers at the curb to gather data. The city hopes to get a year’s worth of data and then update it once every three years.