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Staff, equipment issues cost city $44,000 for solid waste services in Oklahoma.

Staff shortages and equipment problems forced the city of Tahlequah's Solid Waste Department to hire a contract trucking service recently, and the bill has tallied up to $44,000.

Solid Waste Superintendent Les Ford said he brought in Mark Walker Trucking to help haul garbage from the transfer station to a landfill after the problems within the department began to add up.

At one point, the city's solid waste department was down to 10 employees, compared to a typical staff of 21. Some left the job, and others were on various leave. It's taken some time to replace those losses and get the proper personnel in place to operate the larger trucks.

But Ford's department has also dealt with its own equipment problems. While Ford hopes to add a third semi-truck to the city's trash fleet, that won't happen until the new budget year.

The Solid Waste Department will end up paying Mark Walker Trucking $275 per load for hauling waste out of Tahlequah; 160 trips were tallied for a total cost of $44,000 over a period of a few weeks. Ford recognizes the cost seems high, but said it was necessary to keep the facility running. He said his department's finances are solid, despite the $44,000 bill.

Though some vacant positions have been filled, Ford said that he's in the process of finding more employees.

In August 2014, one of two semis at the solid-waste facility was destroyed by fire. At the time, it was in line to become the department's third truck, and to act as a backup.

Ford and other city officials believed the truck's destruction would be covered by insurance, but they later learned it would not be covered by the Oklahoma Municipal Assurance Group because the fire was deemed an electrical blaze.

Ford had already budgeted for a new truck and received permission from city councilors to purchase it ahead of schedule to keep the fleet of trucks at two.

Source: Josh Newton, Tahlequah Daily Press

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Publication:Solid Waste Report
Date:May 27, 2016
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