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CitiStat Takes Aim At Graffiti, Poor Recycling
Copyright 2006 The Buffalo News
Buffalo News (New York)
Byline:By Brian Meyer - News Staff Reporter
Buffalo's deplorable recycling rate and graffiti woes were examined Friday by troubleshooters using a new high-tech accountability system to improve city services.
The CitiStat team also raised concerns about injuries in the Public Works Department.
The three-hour session showcased one positive trend -- city departments are resolving complaint calls faster than they were before CitiStat made its debut last month. Administrators were put on notice two weeks ago that the mayor's office expected to see an immediate improvement.
"I'm very pleased that it looks like every department has reduced its unresolved calls," said Mayor Byron W. Brown.
But officials took less pleasure in reviewing other data. They were dismayed to learn that Buffalo's recycling rate has dropped even lower than earlier projections. Only 6.5 percent of the city's waste stream is being recycled, compared with the national average of 27 percent.
In the mid-1990s, Buffalo's recycling rate was about 14 percent. A few years ago, the city and Erie County formed a partnership aimed at improving recycling participation. The state also provided financial assistance. The grant expires in December, and the city plans to run its own recycling program starting Jan. 1.
Human Resources Commissioner Leonard A. Matarese, who sits on the six-member CitiStat team, says the city must do a better job selling the virtues of recycling -- namely that it can save tax dollars.
Officials are also finalizing a citywide strategy for dealing with graffiti problems. One tool might include the creation of They are considering creating a work crew that would focus on removing graffiti.
The CitiStat team ended its second meeting with a review of the Public Works Department, which is responsible for trash removal, snow plowing and maintenance of roads and buildings. Strategic Planning Director Timothy E. Wanamaker cited what he called a "troubling trend" involving the number of employees in the refuse division who are out of work due to injuries. In a recent two-week pay period, the division logged 90 days of time off for workers compensation claims.
Public Works Commissioner Joseph N. Giambra said one problem is that employees on workers compensation can receive six months of full pay, and the money is tax free.
Matarese credited Public Works officials for vigorously monitoring absenteeism. But for too long, said Matarese, the city has been "penny-wise and pound-foolish" by not buying enough safety equipment or failing to provide adequate training.
© 2001-2011 City of Buffalo
Photos by Angel Art LTP, compliments of the Greater Buffalo Convention and Visitors Bureau. Additional photos by Adrian Roselli, compliments of Algonquin Studios