CLEVELAND -- The FOX 8 I-Team has uncovered problems with the city of Cleveland’s fleet of trash trucks.
The I-Team found on Monday that 20 trucks were out of service. That’s almost a third of a regular fleet on the streets for Cleveland.
We started looking into this after we heard complaints about garbage not collected in the area of West 143rd Street and Puritas Avenue. In fact, when we met Linden Blasius, he told us he had taken his garbage back in off the curb Monday evening because a crew never came to collect it.
Meantime, inside one city of Cleveland garage, we found several garbage trucks parked even as another was turning into the shop. At another garage, we found more. So we sent questions to City Hall. Again and again, city leaders have faced hard questions about problems with trash collection and skyrocketing costs for overtime. So what now?
The city says despite the latest mechanical issues, dozens of crews still collected trash. First, the city told us “all routes were finished by 5:30 p.m.” on the day 20 trucks were out of service. But, then, “some pick-ups may have been missed.” And then this: “All routes were completed. There were a couple of houses missed.”
The union for the trash collectors calls trouble with the trucks an ongoing problem. Vincent Callahan with Local 1099 said, "They break down. They break down. That causes city services sometimes to be delayed."
In 2015, the I-Team found Cleveland’s snow plows in horrible condition, breaking down. Since then, the city has bought new plows. And in 2015, the city bought 19 new trash trucks, but even some of the new trucks have been in the shop. The city says the mechanical problems with the fleet of trash trucks range from minor issues to needs for major repairs.
Councilman Brain Kazy said in a statement:
"I am very disappointed to learn about the problems within the City of Cleveland Division of Waste. Waste collection, a City service that the residents help supplement through a fee, is one of those services that should be performed without a glitch. There is never any excuse for waste not to be picked up. Not one house should ever be missed let alone an entire street. This is something that will be addressed during the upcoming City Council budget hearings and definitely at the next Municipal Services and Properties committee hearing".
And Councilman Mike Polensek said this points to a larger concern. Polensek says he’s been trying to tell the city administration it needs a better maintenance program for its vehicles. Snow plows, trash trucks, police cars: Polensek said the city can’t just buy new ones and then react when those vehicles break down.