- While undercover, ABC Action News reporters in Tampa found a Tampa Solid Waste department garbage truck remained parked for up to 145 minutes before returning to the solid waste lot, and that the two employees, who earn about $20 an hour, were driving less than three hours during each of those two 10-hour shifts. The reporters followed trucks for weeks and discovered that workers were driving around the city, taking food breaks but rarely collecting garbage.
- This finding has caused an uproar among residents whose $35 monthly garbage service is the highest in the Tampa region. Residential pick-up rates have increased 38% since 2012, and commercial rates have increased by 76% in that time.
- The Solid Waste department paid 34,000 hours in overtime last year, with one employee receiving $200,000 over a decade. The department is looking into how to run more efficiently, including considering not to fill open positions. Most immediately, one of the men in the truck caught idle has resigned and the other was terminated. Two more employees have recently resigned because of their insufficient production.
The topic of overtime pay and efficiency and how these two issues affect taxpayers has come up before. Cleveland paid haulers $1.3M in overtime last year — nearly triple the budget, much of which appeared to be paid out because some workers were compensating for the inefficiencies of others. Los Angeles has also fielded complaints of negligent workers.
Tampa Solid Waste Director Mark Wilfalk said he was disappointed to learn of the workers who were mismanaging their time but apparently was not surprised, as when he was asked if other employees were being paid beyond the hours they were working he said to ABC, "I believe there are. And let me just go ahead and say now that we have discovered some of them probably maybe about a year ago or so as we became more efficient."
The efficiency is attributed to automated trucks enabling workers to collect more at a given time and make less landfill trips.