FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Fort Worth’s ongoing deep budget cuts are starting to mean big problems for the city’s code compliance department and the animal control agency its responsible for.
According to numbers from code compliance, animal control agents receive up to 700 calls a day they cannot respond to. That’s because there are fewer animal control agents per capita than any other Texas city.
And code compliance itself took a 20-percent cut in its services. That meant 74,000 fewer inspections over the past year.
The department desperately needed money to keep up with citizen calls. So where did it turn? Garbage.
The city streamlined operations by working with the private Waste Management company. Besides savings, the city made $1.4 Million from selling recyclable goods.
“We’re also seeing an overall savings by combining the Code Compliance Department, the Health Department and Solid Waste Management Department into a single department,” said Brandon Bennett, the Director of Code Compliance for Fort Worth.
For instance, instead of each department having its own customer service section, they’re now all combined in a single office with a staff of 16 customer service representatives. Now a single area can answer a call whether its a question about garbage pick-up or to report a pothole. It saves citizens from having to call several departments to get an answer to a question. And it saves the city money in personnel and equipment.
“We’re able to consolidate a lot of that responsibility into a system that really works and is responsive to the citizens needs,” said Kim Mote, Assistant Director of Code Compliance in the Solid Waste Services Division.
With its treasure from trash and consolidation, the city can now hire more than a dozen new employees to improve its service. The new hires will be assembled into teams of code and animal control workers. They’ll target the areas of Fort Worth that desperately need the service.