NEW YORK (WABC) -- New York City officials say mounds of garbage and an increase in rat sightings have hurt small businesses that are trying to recover amid the COVID pandemic.
U.S. Representative Adriano Espaillat and New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer sent a letter to the NYC Department of Sanitation and the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene on Tuesday to encourage the city to address the problem.
They said they have received dozens of complaints from business owners across the city about overflowing litter bins and mounds of garbage on the streets, sidewalks and throughout public spaces.
RELATED | Beware of ravenous rats, CDC warns
Espaillat and Stringer said piles of trash are driving away customers from small businesses that rely on foot traffic while rat sightings have increased from less than 1,000 in April to 1,658 in June.
"New York City's sanitation workers are heroes. Their commitment to our city's health and safety was especially essential during the darkest days of the COVID-19 pandemic, and now are an integral part of our recovery efforts," the letter said. "We must ensure that our sanitation workforce has the tools and resources to do this critical work."
According to the BID Association, Espaillat and Stringer said DSNY has cut waste basket pick-up from seven days a week to three days a week.
"However, DSNY still must meet its obligation to 'keep New York City healthy, safe and clean,'" the letter said.
DSNY says cuts to their budget are coming in at more than $80 million.
Espaillat and Stringer proposed working with Business Improvement Districts and business owners to provide flexibility to businesses that want to add more trash bins at their own expense.
They also suggested broadening the "Clean Curbs" pilot program.