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Costs rise for Columbia temporary trash collector service

The costs of hiring temporary employees in Columbia to pick up trash and recycling has steadily risen the past nine months, according to an ABC 17 News analysis.

The city has paid temporary worker company People Ready $308,098.36 for workers helping the Solid Waste utility since July 1, 2018. Express Employment Professionals, who helped the utility before, made $151,867.78 in the ten months before it stopped supplying trash collectors.

Express Pros made $175,848.88 total from the Solid Waste utility since Oct. 1, 2017.

Express ended its contract with the city last July after racking up thousands of dollars in medical costs due to on-the-job injuries. The city hired People Ready in late July to fill the gap, charging the city $20 an hour for each worker supplied.

The reliance on temporary workers comes as the department struggles to hire full-time trash collectors. The Columbia City Council voted in September to raise the pay rate for trash collectors by $2 an hour.

The raise, though, has not made a significant difference in the number of trash collectors, according to utility spokesperson Patricia Weisenfelder. She said the city relies on 12 to 15 temporary workers every day to fill in the vacancies.

People Ready did not respond to a request for comment on Thursday.

Solid Waste leaders reported in July 2018 that it had spent $169,438 in workers compensation claims from its own employees for trash collectors that fiscal year. The city often needs two temporary workers to fill one vacancy.

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