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Trash piles up as New York sanitation budget cut by $106m

Trash, trash and more trash has been accumulating across New York City after the budget of the sanitation department was cut by more than $100million.

Photos have captured bags filled with leftover food scraps, cans and bottles piled high on sidewalks or overflowing out of corner litter baskets.

Dead rats have been found among the waste and raccoons have been spotted climbing out of garbage cans.

It comes after City Hall slashed $106 million from the sanitation department’s budget, which reduced pickup for trash cans by 60 percent, reported CBS 2 New York. 

According to Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia, the city is facing a huge deficit and needed to make significant cuts to lower costs.   

‘We have a lot less resources than we did in the prior fiscal year,’ she told CBS 2 New York. 

Although there have been no changes to curbside trash and recycling pickups, Garcia says more rubbish has been left out than there was pre-pandemic. 

‘Our trucks are filling up very quickly as we make it around the route in some neighborhoods because people are home,’ she said.

However, litter baskets on street corners will no longer be emptied on Sundays, and there will be fewer truck pickups on weekdays and holidays. 

‘One of the things we did with our reduced number of basket trucks is really take a look at how we were distributing them,’ Garcia told the station. 

‘We tried to go in and make sure we were distributing by the number of litter baskets any one has and match the service to the number of basket.’

The organics collection program will be suspended for a year and officials are planning to eliminate the curbside collection program of electronics.

Street cleanings, which have been suspended for the last three months, will return but will only be once a week instead of the typical twice a week.

The department is also reducing collection services in rat mitigation zones – areas meant to reduce the city’s rat population by 25 percent, from four days a week pick-up, to three days a week pick-up. 

However, the return of outdoor dining combined with fewer trash pickups have led to an excessive rat problem.

City data shows that rat sightings increased from less than 1,000 in April 2020 to 1,658 in June 2020.

Giacomo Romano, owner of Ciccio, an Italian restaurant in Manhattan told NBC New York that rats from a nearby park have been appearing at his restaurant.

‘Last night, a customer had a baby rat running on his shoe and I let you just imagine his reaction,’ he said.

Rats, which like to eat garbage, carry bacteria and viruses that can cause serious illnesses such as fever, diarrhea and food poisoning.

Residents say that, although New York is being praised for bringing the coronavirus pandemic under control, it has another public health crisis on its hands.

‘The city right now, and especially in New York, we’re being hailed for doing so great with public health and all these things, but I don’t think you can say we’re doing that well with public health [be]cause when you have garbage everywhere, it’s also a public health issue,’ Adam Goldenberg, a resident of Harlem, told CBS 2 New York.

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