Politics & Government

Condo, townhome owners blast Charlotte proposal to cut trash service

Townhome and condominium owners pushed back Friday against the possibility of Charlotte eliminating trash pickup for multi-family units.

The city is studying whether to drop trash collection for multi-family homes, which would be defined as complexes with five or more units. Officials said that would better align with other cities, which require those units to hire private contractors to haul away their refuse.

But one of the biggest sticking points in Charlotte is that the multi-family owners wouldn’t see a change in their property taxes.

In Charlotte, residential property owners pay $25 a year for trash collection. That only covers a fraction of the actual cost, and the rest is paid for from the general fund, which is mostly funded by property taxes. Multi-family developments would no longer pay the $25 per unit fee.

The city would save about $3.4 million.

“To choose one type of person and cut off their service, it just seems totally random,” said Charlie Henley, who works for an apartment management company.

Others said the city was trying to balance its budget based on “the backs” of low-income residents. Another concern: Homeowners associations might not be able to raise fees quickly enough to pay for new private trash service. State law restricts the size of annual association increases.

Bryan Holladay of the Greater Charlotte Apartment Association asked the roughly 50 people who attended if they still wanted the city to pick up their trash. Everyone raised their hand.

The city has been discussing the possibility of reducing trash service for months. It’s possible City Council could vote to make the change this spring, to go into effect this summer.

But Assistant City Manager Hyong Yi, who attended the meeting, said important issues were raised.

“We have more analysis to do,” he said.

Yi defended the city’s decision to study the issue.

“We provide service to more people than other cities,” he said. “It’s worth looking at.”

One of the city’s biggest challenges is that it pays for trash services from the $25 fee as well as property taxes.

If the city funded Solid Waste Services entirely from fees, it would be easier to eliminate services. The residents would no longer pay the fee.

But the city must have the same property tax rate for all parts of the city. So if the city cuts service for townhomes, it can’t target those same properties for a lower tax rate.

Steve Harrison: 704-358-5160, @Sharrison_Obs