Weekly Update

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Like many locally in the private sector and on the national level that have been experiencing difficulties filling vacant positions, the City of Memphis is no different.

I’ll give you some examples.

In the Division of Parks and Neighborhoods, we’re down 39 crew persons (4 full-time and 35 part-time). Along with other vacancies like truck drivers (down 5), this has caused mowing at city parks to be reduced from a 17-day cycle to a 21 to 25-day cycle.

Additionally, on the community center and recreation side of things, Aquatics is down 10-15 part-time lifeguards/swim instructors. This has caused us to be unable to offer swim lessons and programming at all indoor pools.

MATA currently has 85 open positions representing 16.2% of its workforce. The biggest need for them is bus operators. Currently, any bus operator absence means they are not able to cover their route for the day. Additionally, Maintenance cannot keep up with the inspection cycles leading to a shortage of buses. MATA’s on-time performance has fallen to 63% which is heavily impacting riders’ ability to get to work on time and in a reliable fashion.

The Division of Solid Waste has vacancies in 6 different mission critical position classifications, totaling 49 fulltime employees (37 driver positions) as follows:

  • Crew chief (drives garbage and recycle trucks)
  • Crewperson (collects garbage and recycle)
  • Truck Driver (drives dump truck for bulk waste collection)
  • Tractor Trailer Driver (transfers waste from waste transfer station to landfill)
  • Maintenance Mechanic (repairs garbage and recycle carts)
  • Collection Manager (manages garbage/recycle/bulk collection)

Operational impact of these vacancies is delayed collection of garbage, recycling, and bulk waste, as well as cart maintenance and repair. We are compensating by posting positions open for extended periods and aggressively interviewing potential candidates weekly. We continue to onboard new employees as they become available. Existing crews are shouldering the burden by working overtime during the week and Saturdays. With respect to collections, as of 08/26/2021, crews are running up to one-day behind in garbage collection, one-week behind in recycle collection, and one cycle (2 weeks) behind in bulk collection. In addition to staffing constraints, supply chain interruptions have delayed replenishment of cart inventories. The result is a slower than normal deployment of carts.

The Division of Public Works is currently looking to fill roughly 120 positions ranging from equipment operators, pipe layers, maintenance mechanics, and heavy equipment operators. Operational impacts due to these shortages include: reduction in services relating to Right of Way cutting/litter collection, street repairs and paving, sanitary and storm drainage system repairs, as well as operating commercial trucks and various heavy equipment used daily in providing these services.

With reduced numbers of personnel, the division is experiencing more overtime and reduced response times to Service Requests (25-35%). At the Sewage Treatment Plants, we’re struggling to have sufficient staff to maintain all the various systems and associated equipment needed to ensure operation performance is in compliance with regulatory requirements. In-house street paving performance has been impacted, and we anticipate 32% reduction in paving lane miles completed.

On another note, Public Works does contract for certain services such as blighted property grass cutting. Labor shortages have affected our contractors which directly affected those services. Contractors are supposed to cut properties within five days’ notice, however, most are averaging completion time of 14 days due to those labor shortages.

Why am I mentioning this to you?

  1. If you or someone you know is looking for work, we have jobs available.
  2. If you experience longer than normal wait times for City services it’s not for lack of effort or care, but unfortunately, a lack of adequate resources in some divisions.

This is a short-term problem.

Please know we are working extremely hard to increase our staffing levels as quickly as possible to deliver the services you deserve.

Women’s Equality Day: As mayor, I'm fortunate to work with such an outstanding team. On Women's Equality Day yesterday, I made special mention that more women are now leading Memphis city government than ever before.


(picture above taken earlier this summer prior to surge in cases and mask mandate)

In fact, seven of the nine members of my senior leadership team are women, including the first in Memphis history to lead the Fire and Police Departments. In addition, women are Chiefs of Finance, Legal, Communications, Human Resources, and Staff. Many women lead divisions too, including Housing and Community Development, Solid Waste, Libraries, Information Technology, Animal Services, Business Diversity, Compliance, Audit, Performance Management and 311.

Women are great leaders and get things done!

Your award-winning Memphis Public Libraries: Earlier this week, the Memphis Public Libraries were honored at a virtual ceremony for the six recipients of the 2021 National Medal for Museum and Library Service. Go here to watch the full event. (the MPL portion starts around the 12-minute mark).

Congrats to Keenon McCloy and her team on this well-deserved honor!

Enjoy your weekend!


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