CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Four years ago, the City of Cleveland rolled out it's new automated waste collection system. It was supposed to cut costs and reduce efficiency but a Carl Monday investigation found that's not necessarily the case.
Overtime for waste collectors will cost taxpayers more than one million dollars this year, double the budgeted amount. And overall, the waste collection budget hasn't budged, at around $24 million.
The Mayor's Office refused to allow Cleveland 19 News to interview anyone in the Waste Division. But in an email, a spokesman for Mayor Jackson attributes the overtime increase on broken down vehicles and sick and injury time-off for waste collectors.
But Monday and his team may have found another reason: Abuse of the overtime system. On five different days of surveillance, Monday documented waste collector Tyronza Smith clocking in, then going home or running errands before beginning his shift. For example, on one day, hidden cameras showed how Smith didn't pick up any trash for the first seven hours of his shift. But city time card records show he worked about twelve hours that day, and was paid four hours overtime. During his scheduled shifts, Smith was seen driving to a Beachwood motel, picking up a female passenger, and driving her to a housing complex near downtown.
On other days, Monday's cameras caught him at home for hours at a time, when time records show he was working.
This shouldn't come as a surprise to Smith's bosses at the E.55th & Carnegie Waste Division garage. Smith has already been suspended five times for failing to swipe out at the end of his shift, or going A.W.O.L. in the middle of the workday. He was also suspended for failing to disclose a felony on his record.
When approached by Monday, Waste Collection Commissioner Randell Scott declined comment and referred Monday to the Mayor's Office.
The Mayor's Office, in it's email, did say the city has implemented new and improved waste collection routes and has purchased 25 new waste packer trucks, costing over eight million dollars. The City has also increased the number of truck drivers from 62 to 82, while decreasing the number of waste collectors from 108 to 93.
As for the overtime abuse, the question remains: Is Tyronza Smith an exception or the rule in the Waste Division? Cleveland 19 has requested the disciplinary records of all waste collectors and drivers.
We'll let you know what we find out.
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