I-Team investigates allegations of city wasting tax dollars in Cleveland’s trash department

CLEVELAND - A FOX 8 I-Team investigation has found City of Cleveland crews picking up garbage on your streets well after dark, and you may be stunned to see what led to this and how much it’s costing every taxpayer.

I-Team cameras found city trash crews picking up garbage on the west side at 10 p.m., shattering the silence of an otherwise peaceful spring night.

Sharon Chipko lives in the city, and she says it's not unusual for the trucks to come late to her neighborhood.

"My concern is my tax dollars being wasted," Chipko told the I-Team. She added, "Things are so mismanaged. And I feel like a fifth grader could come up with a better idea."

The city's chief operating officer, Darnell Brown, blamed the late-night pick-ups largely on broken down trucks -- not enough trucks to get to all of the routes on the regular schedule.

We asked how it got to this point, and Brown sad, "I don't know the answer to that."

Yet our investigation uncovered months and months of reports of lots of trucks out of service, sometimes dozens at a time.

And when we reviewed work orders for repairs, in one week there were 60 repair orders: trucks written up for bad brakes and problems with hydraulics and engines and more.

Brown said one of the most common breakdowns with the trucks has been the arms used to pick up cans and dump them.

The costs of all those repairs keeps soaring, and the city is now also spending $300,000 to rent trash trucks for six months .

We asked if routine maintenance on the trucks is being done, and Brown said every truck does have a schedule for maintenance. But he also said that is something he will be looking into. He continued, the city will be adding more repair people to evening shifts so that more trucks can get serviced.

The city also expects to get some new trucks soon which had been paid for earlier.

Meantime, despite repeated requests from the I-Team, the city has not released the exact amount of overtime paid yearly for waste collection. But Darnell Brown estimated it's about one million dollars a year.

Chipko, and other taxpayers in Cleveland, are hoping the city can fix the trash collection mess.

"Le'ts get it figured out," Chipko said. "Let's get to the bottom of this and cut the overtime and get the trash picked up before dark."

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