Columbia Solid Waste has up to 13 vacancies

COLUMBIA, Mo. - The Columbia Solid Waste Department now has 13 vacancies and three people on leave, according to city Communications Director Steve Sapp.

In June, the city had 10 vacancies. As of Tuesday, Sapp said there are 28 workers.

The raise in vacancies comes after interim City Manager John Glascock had already proposed raising the minimum wage of trash collectors to $17 per hour.

One of the issues could have to do with the city's lack of enforcement of its policy regarding furniture on the curb.

"For some reason, a number of years ago, decisions were made that whatever is out by the curb, pick it up," Sapp said.

Sapp said the city requires bulky materials to be bundled and be no longer than 4 feet, no thicker than 2 feet and under 50 pounds. All full trash bags are also required to be less than 50 pounds.

People who are leaving out appliances or other furniture should call the city first, Sapp said.

But the lack of enforcement puts workers in danger.

"It adds a danger to our refuse collectors having to pick up a sleeper sofa and try to shove it into the back of a truck and lifting it up or five feet high to do so," said Sapp. "So we need to figure that out."

Trash collector Johnny Clippard said this makes his job difficult.

"They don't know what's going on out here," he said.

Clippard said he sees furniture on the side of the road daily. He said he has also been cut by broken glass left in bags.

"Then they say 'Well, take your time,'" Clippard said. "Then I'm going to be out here till 10 o'clock at night."

But he said he hopes for a change.

"The people who show appreciation and empathy towards us make our day so much better."

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