- The Department of Sanitation's (DSNY) payroll costs have increased by 13% since 2014, from $611 million to $692 million, as reported by NBC New York's I-Team.
- A new contract negotiated with the local sanitation workers union last year is responsible for some of this increase and 532 new employees were also hired. During the same period complaints to the city's 311 service line about missed collections have increased by 24%.
- Commissioner Kathryn Garcia said it's not as easy to fit large furniture during bulk pickup because DSNY is using more dual-bin trucks for curbside organics collections, leading to some delays and additional 311 calls.
This multiyear trend lines up with a similar increase in 311 calls highlighted earlier this year, which DSNY attributed to snow and confusion over changing collection schedules. During this time DSNY's response rate to 311 complaints remained around 95% or higher and increased when it comes to direct letters or emails.
While some staffing inefficiencies were noted in DSNY stock rooms, an increased amount of supervisors and superintendents in the field was likely a welcome addition. As detailed in "Picking Up," a book by DSNY's anthropologist-in-residence Robin Nagle, previous reductions in those areas have made it harder for employees to respond to snow conditions, 311 calls or other incidents. Now that the agency is responsible for a curbside organics collection program that will soon serve more than 1 million residents these logistics have become even more complicated.
On a larger scale, the costs of that program and the city's ongoing strategy of long-distance waste exporting have become quite expensive. DSNY has projected that exporting will cost more than $387 million in the current fiscal year and a new set of organics processing contracts will cost more than $47 million over five years. As the city works toward its goal of "zero waste to landfill" by 2030, it will be worth watching whether these costs continue to grow or can be stabilized.