Trash collection in some residential areas of the city will be reduced to once-a-week instead of the current twice-a-week service because of a budget cut of $1.2 million in the city's department of environmental services.
"Citizens will have to learn how to be careful," said Herbert Tucker, director of the department.
"The Council decided on a cut of $1.2 million and 86 men from our department," said Tucker, whose department has a budget of $618 million. The Council specified that the cuts had to come from the solid waste collection division.
Residents in ward 3, west of Rock Creek Park, wards 4 and 5, far north and north east, and wards 7 and 8 in Anacostia will be affected by the once-a-week collection beginning in the fall.
The budget and manpower cuts will reduce the number of trucks used each day from 84 to 70, eliminating 14 three-man crews and reducing fuel bills by 30 per cent. Other job cuts will be made by reducing supervisory positions within the garbage crews, by transferring men to other positions in the DES and by attrition.
"We have not been hiring in anticipation of the cut since early last summer when we got the first indication this was coming," said Tucker. "We are increasing the street cleaning division and vacancies are there for trash men who want to go over there. We do not want to see anyone lose their job over this."
Lovell Cyrus, the solid waste collectors' representative from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, is cooperating with the city's required staff cuts. "This will have no effect on the manpower because the crews will be transferred to other areas. No one will be losing a job. It will just mean a reshuffling and reassigning of priorities."
Residents in the affected areas interviewed this week were not happy about the service cut. Many were concerned that fewer garbage pick-ups would mean an increase in the rat and dog problem.
"We have consulted with the Environmental Health Administration about this," said Tucker. We don't want any new increase in the rodent problem.
He advises residents to be more careful when they wrap their garbage. "Put covers on the cans, and use plastic bags. Add a spoon full of ammonia to each bag to keep rats and dogs out of the bags."
"As a citizen of D.C. this is hard to come by for me," said Tucker. "But the cost of everything is going up, the cost of gasoline, the cost of personnel.
"I guess I'll just have to buy another garbage can to keep up," he said.