Politics & Government

After outcry, Charlotte to keep trash pickup for townhomes, condos

Charlotte said Monday that townhomes and condos will continue to receive trash collection. The city may still cut service for people living in apartments.
Charlotte said Monday that townhomes and condos will continue to receive trash collection. The city may still cut service for people living in apartments.

Charlotte will continue to offer city trash collection for people living in townhomes and condos, but the city may still eliminate service for apartments.

The city’s Solid Waste Services had studied whether it would make sense to only pick up garbage for single-family homes, but an outcry from townhomes and condo owners caused the city to scrap that plan.

About 24,000 townhomes and 9,000 condos would have been affected. Residents had said it was unfair that they would pay the same property tax rate as single-family homes while losing garbage pickup, one of the city’s core services.

The City Council environment committee discussed trash pickup Monday.

If the council decides to move forward with the latest plan, about 103,000 apartments would no longer get city trash service as of July 2017.

Today, the owner of apartment complexes can either contract with the city to empty their dumpsters or they can hire a private hauler. If they contract with the city, they pay Charlotte a fee of $25 per unit.

Under the proposal discussed Monday, they wouldn’t have the option of hiring the city. They would no longer pay the $25 fee per unit, but they would likely pay much more to a private hauler.

Apartment owners might pass that increase to their tenants, which could make renting in the city more expensive. That could affect the city’s low-income residents.

“Do we have a feel for what this will to do to our poorest communities?” council member Al Austin asked at Monday’s meeting.

Mayor Jennifer Roberts also said she is worried about the impact to low-income residents.

Assistant City Manager Hyong Yi said he’s working with other city officials to determine the impact.

But he told council members that the $25 per unit garbage fee doesn’t cover the cost of picking up trash today. The rest comes from property taxes.

He characterized that as a subsidy and said that high-end apartment complexes also receive it.

He said it is “an inefficient way to help the low-income population.”

The city had said the original plan to cut service to apartments, townhomes and condos would have saved about $3.5 million annually. If the city only cuts service to apartments, the savings will be less, but the city didn’t have an estimate Monday.

“This isn’t about money,” Yi said.

Charlotte has said many other cities don’t provide trash collection to apartments, and it wants to model what it believes to be best practices.

The city provides trash collection for 197,670 single-family homes.

Steve Harrison: 704-358-5160, @Sharrison_Obs

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