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East side residents wait weeks for trash pickup as Indy DPW battles staffing shortage

One resident said he waited weeks for trash pickup before he had enough and took he and his neighbors' trash to the dump, at a cost of $41 for one trip.

INDIANAPOLIS — For several weeks, people around Marion County have reported their trash not being picked up by the city.  

Most recently, neighbors near 42nd Street and Arlington Avenue have noticed their trash cans overflowing. 

“It’s just getting worse,” said Jeff Fleming. “We can’t leave this trash on the streets. It is just going to create another problem.” 

Fleming said he waited two weeks for the city to come out but on Tuesday, he had enough. In the morning, he took his and his neighbor’s trash to a city dump. 

“If this is going to be the case, they need to open up the city dump where we can take our trash cans out there for free. I don’t want to keep paying $41 a week to get rid of trash,” Fleming said.  

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In the last several weeks, neighbors throughout the city have complained about trash piling up. 

DPW said the main issue is a lack of workers. Right now, they are about 31 drivers short a day compared to about 20 last year.  

“That allows us generally to still cover everything but as soon as anybody has to take time off for any reason, that’s when things start to get a little dicey,” said Ben Easley, a spokesperson for Indy DPW. 

Credit: WTHR
Residents of an east Indianapolis neighborhood say trash is piling up on their street after weeks without trash pickup.

So far this year, DPW has hired 11 new employees but also lost 25 employees. In order to have a full team for the solid waste division, they would need about 60 workers. 

To make up for that, Easley said many employees are working six days a week.  

“The men and women of DPW’s solid waste division are really putting in the work so I would aim any frustration away from the driver in your alleyway and give us some patience as we work to address this staffing issue,” Easley said. 

In the meantime, residents like Brenda Yates are frustrated paying for a service that doesn’t come.  

“This is ridiculous because we have all called and it’s the second week,” Yates said.  

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For now, she’s thankful her cans aren’t as full as others but worries that could change if someone doesn’t show up soon. 

“What am I going to do next week?” Yates said.  

To help, DPW is finalizing a new marketing campaign to recruit more people and is looking to do CDL training for new employees possibly next year.   

The department is asking residents to leave their trash at the end of the curb saying sometimes a crew might come the next day or even on Saturdays.  

Residents can also reach out to the Mayor’s Action Center at 317-327-4622. 

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