January 17, 2013The Greensboro City Council voted unanimously to continue to subsidize waste management companies and private garbage haulers by charging them less than the city's cost for using the city transfer station until the 2014-2015 fiscal year.
Following council action the city will continue to charge $41 dollars a ton for solid waste for the rest of this fiscal year, although the cost to the city for processing and shipping the waste is $46.18 per ton.
The city charges itself a $41 tipping fee for garbage collected by city trucks. According to City Manager Denise Turner Roth, 42 percent of the garbage processed at the transfer station is from private haulers.
Roth said that even if the private haulers were charged enough to cover the cost of their garbage, the transfer station would still operate at a deficit.
Since the fact that the city was subsidizing waste management companies at a rate of $5 a ton came to light last year, city staff has told the council that increasing the fee might drive private haulers to other transfer stations and landfills in the area. Republic Services operates a nearby transfer station that charges $45 per ton. Republic trucks often use the Greensboro transfer station, which is $4 a ton cheaper.
Greensboro Field Operations Director Dale Wyrick recommended that the city increase the price to $44 a ton in the next fiscal year and to $47 a ton in 2014-2015 fiscal year and his recommendation was made in the form of a motion by Councilmember Nancy Hoffmann.
Mayor Robbie Perkins said, "The theory behind that, price elasticity, is that the higher the price, you have some fall off in demand and you have a lower overall revenue and it could end up costing the city some money."
Councilmember Yvonne Johnson said she understood the staff recommendation. "I understand what you are saying about the incremental," she said. "Not to just jump that much that fast. I would be much more inclined to use that recommendation."
Also at the meeting, newly appointed Councilmember Tony Wilkins cast his first "no" vote on an item legalizing busking, or street performers, at certain locations in Greensboro. The item passed 8 to 1.
Although Wilkins did not voice his objections during the meeting, he later said he felt the ordinance has too many regulations.
Among its regulations the ordinance requires performers to purchase a $10 annual privilege license and limits groups to no more than five performers.
It also limits performing areas to sections of Elm, Greene, Davie, Church and Washington streets in downtown Greensboro approved by the city manager.
There were three speakers on the item.
Self-described advocate for the Greensboro creative culture Katei Cranford said she was glad that the city was moving to distinguish between panhandlers and performers, but said she thought some of the regulations would deter performers from coming to Greensboro.
Emily Stewart, a member of the band Matty Sheets and the Blockheads, said she was glad that street performers were being recognized. "Street performers are actually providing a service to downtown Greensboro," she said.
However, she said she objected to the requirement that performers pay for a license. "I don't feel like buskers should be charged to provide a service," she said. "I feel like they are contributing greatly to the city."
Ed Wolverton, president of Downtown Greensboro Inc., spoke in favor of the ordinance as presented. He said it was something his constituents were excited about.
Councilmember Zack Matheny said he would support the item, but said, "To me, we just put too many regulations on this thing."
Matheny said he thought they should have just opened up the city to busking to see how it went and then regulate it accordingly.
The council also approved a $238,000 Economic Development Incentive Grant to 102 North Elm Street Associates LLC for the revitalization of the Southeastern Building at the northeast corner of Elm and Market streets – for many years the world headquarters of The Rhinoceros Times.
The grant is to be paid out over five years after the improvements have been made and the first five jobs have been created by the project.
The vote for that grant was 8 to 0. Perkins was recused because two of the brokers in his real estate company had the space offered for lease.
In other business the council approved a 120-month, $850,000 loan to Kotis Holdings LLC to revitalize a big box store at 1421 East Cone Blvd. The project is expected to create 17 full-time-equivalent jobs.
Councilmember Jim Kee thanked Marty Kotis for his investments in Greensboro.
The council also voted to spend $200,000 to sponsor the National Scholastic Athletics Foundation New Balance Outdoor Nationals track meet at North Carolina A&T State University over the next five years.
The council had heard the formal request for the sponsorship at a Jan. 10 work session.