NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Trash has been piling up all over New York City less than a month after the sanitation department’s budget was slashed by millions.
If you’ve been noticing more trash spilling out of the baskets on each corner later or rolling on the streets like tumbleweeds even more than usual, you’re not alone.
“Now it’s more than ever,” said Stella Pando, in Hamilton Heights.
“It’s outrageous. A lot of rats come in, a lot of mice, roaches. They gotta do something about this,” Hector Vasquez, of Harlem, said.
Two raccoons were spotted feasting on an overflowing bin the other night outside a Hamilton Heights playground.
“The city right now, and especially in New York, we’re being hailed for doing so great with public health and all these things, but I don’t think you can say we’re doing that well with public health ’cause when you have garbage everywhere, it’s also a public health issue,” said Adam Goldenberg, of Harlem.
In June, the city cut $106 million from the sanitation department‘s budget, reducing pickup for public litter baskets by 60%.
“We have a lot less resources than we did in the prior fiscal year,” DSNY Commissioner Kathryn Garcia told CBS2’s Ali Bauman.
The sanitation commissioner says curbside collection service has stayed the same, but people are leaving out more trash than usual, particularly in the outer boroughs.
“Our trucks are filling up very quickly as we make it around the route in some neighborhoods because people are home,” Garcia said.
She says those trucks usually help pick up loose debris along with what’s called lot cleaning crews, which were also reduced in the budget cuts.
With tourism down and many offices still closed, as well as residents in wealthier zip codes leaving the city during the pandemic, some neighborhoods have stayed relatively clean.
“Is there any kind of diversion of resources from neighborhoods that don’t need as much trash pickup right now to neighborhoods that do, the lower-income neighborhoods?” Bauman asked.
“One of the things we did with our reduced number of basket trucks is really take a look at how we were distributing them,” Garcia said. “We tried to go in and make sure we were distributing by the number of litter baskets any one has and match the service to the number of basket.”
The commissioner says collections will continue to adjust as more people come back to the city, but right now, there’s no clear plan how sanitation will keep up with the mounting trash on their reduced budget.