AUSTIN (KXAN) — The City of Austin is suspending its large brush and bulk collection “until further notice” beginning Feb. 21 for curbside customers due to staffing shortages caused by COVID-19. The city is also having trouble filling open positions within Austin Resource Recovery, even after recently increasing pay to help entice people to apply.

The city said it’s looking for both entry-level and experienced drivers, and new drivers will start at $17 per hour with pay raises as employees “progress in their roles” and earn their commercial driver’s license on the job.

“We’ve seen people really suffer with the workforce. I don’t know what the city can do in order to help bring it back, but I think anything you can to incentivize people to re-engage would just be really phenomenal,” said Nancy Littlejohn. “We end up with a lot of large bulk trash. I actually put in a request recently and they told me they were no longer serving our neighborhood.”

Note, this suspension does not impact regular trash, recycling and compost services. We asked ARR if that was a consideration, but the office told us there are no plans to implement any further service suspensions.

According to ARR’s collection calendar, the bulk collection for the week of Feb. 14 is still scheduled. People can check their pick-up schedules using this tool provided by ARR.

Fees for bulk pickup are incorporated into utility services fees. ARR tells us because it does plan on rescheduling the bulk and brush pickups, it’s currently not looking into refunding residents.

If you need to get rid of large brush and can’t wait for the city to reschedule pick-up days, the city said to take it to the Hornsby Bend Biosolids Management Plant, located at 2210 FM 973. If you have bulk pick-up items, the city suggests donating them if they’re in good condition or simply waiting until collection resumes.

If it’s clothes and housewares you’re trying to get rid of, you can schedule a pick-up through ARR’s clothing and housewares program, which partners with Goodwill Central Texas.

If it’s possible, the city wants folks to download the Austin Recycles App to get reminders about trash and recycle pick-up days and other curbside collections.