Flint city services director seeks to recover garbage trucks, lost equipment under emergency director
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Flint, MI—Flint’s new Municipal Services Manager wants to recover lost services and equipment at the Office of Plague Elimination.
Arnold Brown, who was named director of municipal services last month and has held several waste collection positions in the city for more than 25 years, presented a ‘wish list’ to the Flint City Council during a a budget hearing of May 5, 2022.
His list included more than $1 million worth of equipment, four more worker positions, and a weekly neighborhood cleanup plan.
Before being under emergency management, the city had much of what was on Brown’s list. If the council passes the necessary budget amendments, the city will begin to recover services and amenities that have been cut or sold under state control.
“I want to be successful,” Brown said of his roster. “I want the city to succeed. I don’t want us to be here looking like a laughingstock.
At the May 5 meeting, Brown said he would like to add additional equipment to his department, including two garbage trucks, a lightning loader with a claw for removing blight and trees, and a Chevy pickup truck. one ton with a tipper.
He said the equipment would cost $1,320,000 but would help the burn office get “more bang for (their) money.”
“We need to be able to go to our vacant (properties) without having to haul dumpsters or anything, and just be able to just randomly put things in the back of the truck and take them to the landfill” , Brown said of the need. for garbage trucks.
Councilman Eric Mays said he remembers when the city used garbage trucks to do neighborhood cleanups.
“I used to ride in the garbage trucks, and you know we used to take Saturdays, weekends, in the first ward before I was even a councilman, and we would clean up the ward in using the garbage trucks,” Mays said. . “So they helped with the burn, not only picking up trash, but also cleaning up the neighborhood.”
According to the news reports as of 2012, former city emergency manager Michael Brown asked the city to list 20 of their garbage trucks for sale for $75,000 each. If each truck sold, it would equate to $1.5 million, which reports say is less than half of what they were originally bought for.
“You know, you have to get the equipment back and you have to try to get back,” Mays said.
During the May 5 budget hearing, Brown said the cost of two garbage trucks would be $225,000 each — a purchase Mays said he would support.
Brown said he would need two additional positions for people with commercial driver’s licenses to operate the trucks. The rest of the equipment does not require operators to have special licenses, just training.
In addition to buying garbage trucks for the city, Brown said he would like to implement a neighborhood cleanup plan, like the one Mays remembers, using trucks from the city’s waste hauler supplier. .
He said he contacted the vendor and asked him to provide five trucks per weekend when not in use for neighborhood cleanup. The carrier will provide the trucks and drivers for 18 Saturdays, but various neighborhood groups will be tasked with mobilizing volunteers and planning cleanups.
“Anyone who wants to enjoy a cleanup…can ask for a truck, or they can ask for a dumpster, and we’ll get the dumpsters out, and then everyone should be happy, hopefully,” Brown said.
According to Brown, the Department of Public Works sets aside funds for neighborhood cleanups each year. He said there was $70,000 in the fund “still there”.
“So I’m going to do my best to spend it,” Brown said.
Mays said the cleanups were working well in the city and he was looking forward to seeing them again.
“We would get neighborhood organizations to come together. We would take out the garbage trucks and drive around,” Mays said. “We were riding on the backs of them like garbage collectors, and we were doing really good back then.”
Mays said he hopes the city council will work together to pass a budget amendment to make Brown’s wish list a reality.
“That’s why we’re looking at front-end loaders, garbage trucks, and equipment, because then you can go through and really get things done, even if they start dumping again,” Mays said. “It was just something we usually did every summer.”
In addition to equipment, Brown is also looking to add five employees — an accounting clerk to do payroll and track grant funding, and four laborers.
Currently, Brown said the Office of Blight Elimination has only two workers. His proposal would increase that number to six, but some council members doubted that would be enough.
Brown explained that he tried not to stray too far from the projected budget given to him once he took the job.
Flint Councilman Quincy Murphy compared that number to the 300 volunteers who recently spent an afternoon cleaning up neighborhoods.
“When you look at the comparisons, you’re talking about six people versus 300 coming in for a few hours to do three streets,” Murphy said. “We are talking about nine rooms with six people. Make it make sense.
Brown said he was focused on immediate solutions but was not averse to asking for more in the future if the council so wished.
“I was just basing our information on what we needed now, because right now we’re not doing anything if you ask me to,” Brown said. “So we have to start somewhere. I think it will be every year that we will build on what we already have.
He said he is also working to find additional funds through the American Rescue Plan Act, a federal grant program to help the country recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Flint City Councilwoman Judy Priestley, who sits on the ad hoc committee for ARPA funds, said she thinks ARPA funds could be used for Brown’s list.
“I really want to use ARPA dollars for your equipment and not take it out of the general fund budget,” she said. “I know there are plans, and I’ve had discussions with the mayor as well as our compliance company about getting new equipment, and it will come.”
Flint residents have made it clear that the blight is a top priority for how ARPA funds are spent during various public consultation sessions held by the administration and council.
Last month, the council voted to spend $16 million of the city’s $94.7 million in ARPA funds on a plan to demolish the city’s dilapidated structures.
On May 12 at 5:30 p.m. in the council chambers of City Hall, council will convene departments to discuss budget matters with city departments.