Opening Remarks: Budget Oversight Hearings on DPW and For Hire Vehicles

Today is Wednesday, March 29, 2023, and I am calling to order this meeting of the Committee to conduct a budget oversight hearing for the Department of Public Works (“DPW”) and the Department of For-Hire Vehicles (“DFHV”) over the Zoom platform. The time is 9:08 a.m.

Today we’re also wishing the best of luck and support to our colleagues in DC government who have been called to the Hill as House Republicans continue to try and deny the residents of the District of Columbia their right to self-govern.

One thing I know those House Republicans will never say is to thank DC government workers like those at DPW, who have literally picked up their trash when Republicans have shut the government down.

The first agency on today’s agenda is the Department of Public Works. In addition to picking up after the House of Representatives, DPW’s mission is to provide critical municipal services that are both ecologically sound and cost effective, including solid waste management, parking enforcement, fleet management, and snow removal.

The Mayor’s proposed FY 2024 operating budget for DPW is $186,151,433 and includes 1,501.0 FTEs. This represents a 1.3% decrease in operating funds, compared with the approved FY 2023 budget.

The Mayor has also proposed a $78,087,000 capital plan for DPW over the fiscal years 2024-2029, with about $27 million of that funding in FY 2024. This represents a $29.6 million increase over the six-year plan, compared with the current approved capital budget.

I’m most immediately concerned with the significant proposed cuts to staff at DPW, even if they are cuts to vacant positions. I’m sure the agency can argue that those reductions will not have any impact to services, but even if that’s true, cutting that many FTEs stunts the growth in DPW’s work that I and so many across the District want to be seeing. From solid waste management to parking enforcement, now is not the time to sit back and coast on what we’ve got.

There are some items I plan to follow up on from our performance oversight hearing with DPW – I would love it if this were the last time we had to discuss the ongoing case of the missing litter cans, but I know my Council colleagues and I are still not happy with the level of transparency on this issue, and I want to understand if there’s a budgetary fix needed for this.

I’m glad to see money in this proposed budget to continue the curbside composting pilot, which should be rolling out this year. I want to make sure the agency has a clear plan to ensure that program’s success.

Finally with DPW, I hope that Director Spriggs and his team will work with me in rising to the occasion and use our parking enforcement resources to their fullest extent in addressing traffic safety. If we still have hundreds of vehicles with over 40 outstanding violations, there’s obviously something that needs to change.

I want to thank Acting Director Spriggs and his team for being here today, and for continuing to introduce me and my staff to DPW and their operations. I’ve really enjoyed getting to see their work up close and meet all of the incredible staff at the agency. It’s one of my goals with this committee to make sure that DPW employees know how much their work is valued by the Council and all of our constituents, and I want to make sure that value is reflected in this proposed budget.

The second agency on today’s agenda is the Department of For-Hire Vehicles.

DFHV oversees the taxicab industry as well as other for-hire vehicles, such as private ride hailing companies and non-District limousine vehicles. As of this year, they are also tasked with the authority to enforce food and parcel delivery services, at least under temporary legislation that is in effect.

Since its inception, the Department has expanded in mission to provide a number of transportation services of its own, including Neighborhood Connect and School Connect.

DFHV is accompanied by the For-Hire Vehicle Advisory Council, made up of stakeholders from within and around the industry, as well as the Accessibility Advisory Council.

Somewhat of a rarity in this budget year, DFHV’s proposed FY24 budget sees an increase in operating spending by about $3 million – a 12.9 percent increase.

That’s encouraging news, though I am concerned about the agency’s reliance on federal ARPA dollars and the impact that could have on the long-term fiscal sustainability of its various programs. I plan to explore this issue more with Interim Director Peters.

I look forward to hearing from our public and government witnesses today on DPW and DFHV.

We value your input, and we are grateful for all that you do for District residents.


“The Council has gone through yet another budget process while the commission has sat on its hands.”
Yes, this was a difficult year. And we were handed a difficult budget. I’m proud of the work this Council has done to make an unpalatable budget better.

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