Audit: sick leave, overtime abuse among problems of city's bulky-item pickup program

MAKAKILO, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - At the corner of Makakilo Drive and Liolio Place, you will find two discarded toilets among other bulky-item trash.

Residents can expect the eyesore until at least September 5th when workers from the Department of Environmental Services' Refuse Collection Branch are scheduled to collect them.

Councilmember Kymberly Pine, who represents the Makakilo district, says it's a prime example of residents abusing the city's bulky-item service program.

"They're not just putting bulky items on a certain date and time, they're doing it every day and expecting the city workers to come and pick up their trash at all times," she said.

A recent audit, prompted by an excessive number of service complaints, found that between July 2015 and July 2016, 84% (102 out of 122) employees took a total of 2,227 days of sick leave.

During the same period, 153 workers were paid $1.7 million in overtime.

And between July 2015 and April 2017, the audit found 21 workers took more than 3,900 hours of leave without pay because money ran out.

"Anytime we have excessive overtime it's always alarming, but when you have excessive sick time that includes people not even getting paid for their sick days, that means you have staff people being overworked," said Pine.

More than a decade ago, the city switched from an appointment-based service to a monthly pickup schedule.

Still, the audit found many problems persist.

The audit makes several recommendations including updating contract agreements with the United Public Workers union.

Pine says the department should first start by cracking down on residents who don't comply with bulky-item service rules.

"To stop the abusers, we really have to fully staff all the enforcement staff and that's just something that needs to be done immediately," said Pine.

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