CHICAGO (CBS) – Something stinks in Chicago.
Thousands of residents are waiting for garbage carts, some since late last year. Annie Chisholm and Earl Simington are among them. They tell 2 Investigator Brad Edwards they’ve each been waiting more than six months.
Both say they have repeatedly called their alderman’s office, as well as 311, the city of Chicago hotline. Chisholm has had to use her neighbor’s cart.
“To me, it’s ridiculous because, you know, how long does it take?” Simington says.
On a City of Chicago data portal, 2 Investigators counted more than 14,000 open orders as of June 4. Some requests date back to November 2017.
A dozen aldermanic wards each had over 400 pending requests; all were located on the South and West sides. The 34th Ward, where Chisholm and Simington reside, had 561 open requests, tops among the city’s wards.
Edwards sat down with John Tully, commissioner of the city Department of Streets and Sanitation, to find out what was going on.
“Fourteen thousand outstanding orders – is that unacceptable?” Edwards asks.
“It is unacceptable and we’re working to fix it,” Tully says, adding the city has already filled 19,000 orders this year.
But the backlog still persists.
Tully says addressing the backlog is a department priority, noting his cart budget increased 50 percent to $1.5 million.
“It’s a concern of ours, no doubt,” Tully says. “And we’re trying to address that by shifting funds. Trying to move funds from other lines.”
The city delivered new carts to Chisholm and Simington last week. The deliveries came after Edwards brought the cases to Tully’s attention.
“Eliminating the black garbage cart backlog remains a priority for the City. The Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation (DSS) has moved up its next scheduled cart delivery and identified additional funds to purchase more carts to quickly and efficiently address the cart backlog. Residents who currently have pending black garbage cart requests can expect to receive their carts within 8 weeks,” Streets and Sanitation spokeswoman Marjani Williams stated in an email.
City officials said crews will refurbish damaged garbage carts whenever possible, a faster and cheaper option than replacing them.