At the June 17 Council meeting, the Irving City Council directed staff to bring an ordinance requiring two public hearings seeking resident input on increasing the monthly rates for Solid Waste Services. If the proposed rate increase is approved, all Solid Waste field employees would receive a pay adjustment to help attract and retain qualified employees. The two public hearings are scheduled for July 1 and July 22 at 7 p.m. at Irving City Hall, 825 W. Irving Blvd.
The proposed rate adjustment would be a pass-through increase of approximately 4% on the monthly Solid Waste rates, or an average increase of about 1% on resident’s overall monthly utility bill.
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Several factors have affected the scarcity of solid waste staff, including a nationwide labor shortage, increased competition in the market and physical demands. The COVID-19 pandemic created a gap in employment that is still rebounding, and many organizations are competing to hire employees. Each day, staff faces physically strenuous conditions and low morale. In the City of Irving, regardless of weather conditions, each solid waste collections employee walks an average of a marathon (26.2 miles) per week and hand collects an average of 18 tons (36,000 pounds) of material each week.
The solid waste collection vacancies are not unique to the City of Irving. Nationwide, the solid waste collection industry is struggling to fill vacant staff positions, affecting customer service in many cities. Furthermore, the market for solid waste employees with a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) is very competitive both within and outside the solid waste industry. The proposed rate adjustment not only allows the starting salary for CDL positions to better align with the current market rate, but also helps attract qualified employees by adjusting the starting pay, as well as encourage retention by adjusting the top-out pay.
The proposed rate adjustment is the first step in addressing overall solid waste operational needs in Irving. In addition to the proposed rate adjustment, there is a current study on an opt-out option for commercial customers that includes a rate study to ensure the cost of service is being fully recovered. Upon completion of the study, recommended adjustments to customers will be presented to the City Council for their consideration and direction. Solid Waste Services leadership is also examining incentives for safety and retention and is currently conducting a study for route optimization plans. Potential revisions to the solid waste ordinance may also help address workload and collection issues.