Politics & Government

Nonprofits: Cutting apartment trash pickup would hurt poor

Charlotte City Manager Ron Carlee has recommended the City Council approve a small property tax increase instead of cutting trash collection for apartments.
Charlotte City Manager Ron Carlee has recommended the City Council approve a small property tax increase instead of cutting trash collection for apartments.

The Greater Charlotte Apartment Association, as well as non-profits serving low-income residents, are continuing to lobby the city of Charlotte to keep trash collection for apartments.

City Manager Ron Carlee recommended Monday that the City Council approve a small property tax increase for the upcoming year, a move that will help pay for 50 new police officers.

But Carlee gave council members two other options, in case they don’t want to raise taxes: They could increase the garbage fee all homeowners pay or they could cut trash service for apartments.

The issue of whether trash service should continue for apartments is the most significant question left to answer in this year’s budget deliberations.

“I don’t think the issue is dead,” said Julie Porter, president of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Housing Partnership, which has built 1,500 apartments for low-income residents in Charlotte. “I think it will come back. The way the city has positioned this is, they have made it clear (they don’t want to pick up trash at apartments.)”

Porter said if the partnership can’t use the city for trash collection, it will cost the non-profit $160,000 a year.

Charlotte city staff members have said it’s unusual for cities to collect trash at apartments, which the city has said could be considered commercial property. (Charlotte does not pick up trash for businesses).

If the city cut garbage service to apartments, it could save about $3 million a year. Carlee’s proposed property tax increase of just under 1 percent would raise about $4 million.

Porter said she will continue to lobby council members about the issue. She has tried to connect Charlotte’s low economic mobility with the possibility that ending trash service would hurt the city’s poorest residents.

“The city of Charlotte has been identified as having the worst economic mobility of the Top 50 cities in the US and individuals living in poverty typically rent their home or apartment,” Porter wrote council members. “Despite concerns raised by our community and formation of a task force dedicated to improving economic mobility, the City of Charlotte is considering making it even harder to escape poverty by enacting a policy which will force low-wage residents to pay for trash service above and beyond their current rental payments.”

Other groups, including the Homeless Services Network and Crisis Assistance Ministry, have questioned the possibility of cutting trash service for apartments.

The apartment association has told council members that he believes landlords will have to pay an extra $10 a month for each apartment if they have to use private haulers for trash service. That cost will be passed on to renters.

The City Council will hold a public hearing on the budget Monday. It will hold a workshop on the budget May 11.

Steve Harrison: 704-358-5160, @Sharrison_Obs

  Comments