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DeKalb Increases Wages to Attract Garbage Truck Drivers

The Georgia county only has half of its new garbage trucks on the road due to lack of drivers so officials try raising wages to attract workers.

(TNS) — In Georgia, just half of DeKalb County’s expensive new garbage trucks are currently running routes.

But officials hope that offering higher wages will speed up the process of hiring drivers and help get the rest of them on the road. 

In 2017 and 2018, DeKalb County spent nearly $16 million to purchase 46 of the automated side loader (or ASL) trucks, which have robotic arms to grab garbage and recycling bins. Officials say they can increase efficiency and reduce costs because they’re be operated by a single driver. 

The county initially announced plans for the $340,000 trucks to be up and running by last December, but a Channel 2 Action News investigation found that many of them were sitting idle.

On Friday, the county said 23 of the trucks are currently in use. Officials have blamed the delay on a shortage of drivers with the necessary commercial driver’s license — and the higher pay offered by some private waste management companies.

Last week, county commissioners approved a 2020 budget that included about $93,000 to increase wages and try to attract more drivers. 

There is still no concrete timeline for all of the ASL trucks to be deployed.

“The deployment is based on the recruiting, hiring and training of drivers, which is underway,” DeKalb County spokesman Andrew Cauthen said.

The money for wage hikes was part of a $1.9 million investment in the sanitation department that DeKalb CEO Michael Thurmond added to his budget proposal at the last minute. 

The rest of the money includes funding to deliver new 95-gallon roll carts to some 43,000 sanitation customers who will be serviced by ASL trucks. 

The increased capacity will reduce overflowing garbage bins, which often force drivers to stop and pick up trash that’s fallen to the street, and help accentuate the new trucks’ abilities, officials said.

Delivery of the new carts is expected to begin in June.

“By purchasing the ASL trucks, increasing wages to remain competitive in a tight job market, and investing in right-sized containers, we are on track and following through on our promise to deliver best-in-class sanitation service,” Thurmond said in a news release.

©2020 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Atlanta, Ga.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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