Investigates: City of Jacksonville employees getting paid overtime to pick up trash

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — An Action News Jax investigation has uncovered that City of Jacksonville employees are being asked to volunteer to help pick up trash around the city, all while getting paid overtime.

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry spoke exclusively with Action News Jax reporter Ben Ryan about the ongoing trash and yard waste issues that have frustrated many.

“I’m disgusted,” Dee Thomas said.

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Thomas is a Southside neighbor and says it’s pathetic that it’s taking so long for yard waste to be removed from her property.

The city says this plan is for all city employees and is specifically looking for workers with a commercial driver’s license, as pickups will be done in city-owned public works vehicles.

“Anybody that has a CDL license and works for the city of Jacksonville, which includes the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department, can volunteer to help us with garbage and recycling pickups and they’ll get paid overtime,” Curry told Action News Jax.

Many missed collections have been sitting around for weeks, if not months, and Curry says the complaints have piled up.

He says this is a short-term fix while the city finds a long-term solution.

“We don’t want people to not have their garbage and recycling picked up timely because I know they’re getting frustrated,” Curry said. “So this is a short-term solution while we look to fix the bigger problem.”

Based on 2018 data, fiscal year salaries for Jacksonville city employees was $52,532.

Leaving an hourly rate of $25.24

Overtime wages at $37.87

Curry said the new move dealing with missed collections of trash, yard waste and recycling is to work through ongoing issues with private contractors.

To date, the city tells Action News Jax, private contractors Advanced Disposal Services, Republic Services and Waste Pro have been fined a total of $264,400 since February.

Action News Jax Ben Ryan’s previous investigation revealed that many of those contractors cannot hire enough workers to keep up with the trash pickup demand.

When asked if fines will continue for the private contractors, Curry said, “I would expect so.”

Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department Chief Powers said the department is not forcing anyone to help with pickup, but his firefighters will go through training, and he says they’re ready to take it on.

“As these men and women do all the time, they love serving their community and that’s what they’re doing,” Powers said.

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As for Thomas, she said whatever it takes for her yard waste to get picked up.

“You shouldn’t have to ask to have other people do someone else’s job,” she said.

City workers will have to tell their supervisor if they’re interested, and it will be coordinated through public works. For the community, if you’re having issues, the city says to contact them so they’re aware.