MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Cleaning up the city. Council members demanded action in a committee meeting Tuesday.
WREG Investigators told you about the mounting problem.
“We are presiding over the conditions of the city that are the dirtiest we have ever seen,” Councilman Martavius Jones said.
He and other council members said in the meeting they’re appalled by the sights they are seeing.
“The taxpaying citizens don’t care how it’s picked up, they just want it picked up,” Councilmember Ford Canale said.
Canale called on Public Works Director Robert Knecht to address what the city is doing.
“We work diligently every day,” he said.
Knecht told the council they’re teaming up with Memphis police to catch illegal dumpers, working on educational programs and planning upcoming events in each council district where people can drop off trash free of charge.
He says last year, they picked up more than 48,000 bags of litter and 118,000 tires, and so far this year, thousands more.
Knecht says crews are out every day, but as WREG Investigators told you the city reports it’s been tough to hire people in the pandemic. It’s left only 18 people in the Public Service Corps, a litter pickup program that offers part time work to teens, young adults and ex offenders.
“Yeah, we have a problem getting people. We are funded. The mayor has given us enough funding to hire 100 people, but we are having a challenge of reaching that number,” the mayor’s special assistant Ken Moody said in our report.
Knecht said they’re looking at all options to tackle the problem. He said the city cuts grass and picks up litter bi-weekly along 1,000 lane miles.
We asked what it would cost to cover every street in the city.
“I think I did an initial estimate, and it was going to be somewhere around $12 million a year to do that,” Knecht said.
Canale believes the discuss will come up in the upcoming budget talks.