AN OVERWHELMING BUDGET deficit of $60 million and a shrinking staff has forced Pittsburgh to eliminate several public works services, including all nonresidential trash pickup. According to the city, these services were costing $578,000 more than the revenues it brought in.
The Public Works Department is canceling collections for 700 nonresidential customers; the final day of city-sponsored pickup is Oct. 13. Churches, nonprofit organizations, parochial schools and apartment buildings with six units or more will be affected by the elimination, but Pittsburgh Public Schools will remain on city collection routes through the end of the year. The district is considering bids from private haulers to begin collecting in 2004. Some of Pittsburgh's private haulers picking up the slack include Waste Management, Houston, Allied Waste Industries (BFI), Scottsdale, Ariz., Vogel Disposal, Mars, Pa., and other smaller firms. The city sent letters to customers who would be cut, explaining why collections would cease and providing a list of possible replacement haulers.
According to Bill Klimovich, operations manager of Environmental Services for the Public Works Department, the city tried doubling nonresidential pickup fees last year — the first rise in 10 years — in an attempt to gain a profit and maintain service. For instance, weekly, one-container pickup rose from $45 to $90 a month. Despite the effort, the increase was unpopular and caused the department to lose approximately 100 customers.
Bulk collection will change from a bimonthly to a monthly pickup. Other changes the city council approved in August include the elimination of one of two graffiti-removal teams, elimination of the rodent control division and a reduction in street sweeping and mowing for city parks.