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Change added to garbage pickup schedule in Janesville

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Marcia Nelesen
June 4, 2013

— Last week's holiday garbage collection schedule that included Saturday pickup will be the norm now that the city has an automated trash system.

The overtime pay for Saturdays during holiday weeks totals about $760, said John Whitcomb, city operations director.

Residents have contacted Janesville City Council members with concerns about the new schedule and the overtime, council members said at a recent meeting.

Whitcomb said the decision to extend garbage collection into Saturdays was made to provide consistent service regardless of holidays.

In the past, the city used extra equipment and pulled workers from other jobs during holiday weeks to complete two routes in one day and put collection back on the regular, weekday pickup schedule.

The city was able to do that because it used extra rear-load vehicles normally deployed during loose-leaf collection and bagged yard waste collection. Playing catch-up sometimes resulted in overtime but sometime did not, Whitcomb said.

That schedule also pulled workers away from street maintenance, he said.

Since April 29, the city has been using new, automated trucks that grip and dump garbage bins with mechanical arms. The city has only three spare automated trucks, Whitcomb said.

That means workers probably could get caught up during the week after a Monday holiday but might not get caught after a holiday later in the week. Residents might end up with trash sitting at the curb for two days instead of one, Whitcomb said.

And, based on experience, the city cannot count on having all three spare collection trucks available.

"These trucks are exposed to extreme conditions on a daily basis and breakdowns are common," Whitcomb said.

"Rather than have different schedules based upon the day of the week the holiday falls on, I believe it will be easier for our customers to understand that trash/recycling collection will be delayed one day following a holiday," Whitcomb said in a memo to council members.

Sanitation employees are familiar with the routes and are less likely to miss routes than other workers called in to help with garbage collection, he said.

Nine of Janesville's 14 peer cities and many area private waste haulers have similar schedules, Whitcomb said.

The cost to provide collection on Saturdays is an additional $760 in overtime on top of regular pay. Saturday overtime wages for the average public works employee is time-and-a half at an additional $13.56 an hour. The same schedule for all holidays is consistent, he said.



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