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Sanitation staff shortage affecting City of Bradenton recycled and yard waste pick ups

The city's sanitation department has 14 unfilled positions with five workers out sick due to COVID-19.

BRADENTON, Fla. — A sanitation staff shortage in the City of Bradenton is being blamed for the late pick up of recycled and yard waste. 

Trash cans can be seen sitting out by the roadside longer than some neighbors would like. Some neighbors said their yard waste has sat out for weeks and the recycling trucks only arrived Wednesday afternoon.

"They are a full day late and actually they missed the week before. I'm just not sure what the schedule is and between my neighbor and myself just a week ago we were determining if it was on the schedule every other week," said Kevin Renauer, a retired Bradenton home owner.

"It's a bit of a inconvenience dragging carts out to the street and back, especially my older neighbors here," Renauer said.

The city's sanitation department has 14 unfilled positions with five workers out sick due to COVID-19.

"What we are having to do is basically run extra routes when we can and make use of overtime," said Rob Perry, Administrator, City of Bradenton. 

While recruiters try to hire more qualified people to fill up the open positions, some city leaders have hit the routes to help get those pick-ups back on track.

Over the weekend, several city staff and elected officials including the mayor attached city-owned trailers to their personal trucks to collect yard waste from homes.

A nationwide shortage of CDL-certified drivers and competition from higher-paying companies is adding to the shortage, according to the city administrator.

"I can go down Main Street and see that McDonald's is paying $15 an hour with incentives. I have got to be considerably better than that to get the right employees to work under these demanding conditions," Perry said.

Neighbors like Renauer say they understand the labor market's challenges caused by the pandemic but they need more communication from the city.

"They should be more communicative and let me know if it's going to be every other week and how long they expect it to happen," he said.

The city administrator is planning to propose at least a $3 salary increase for workers as well as hiring bonuses and incentives