Politics & Government

Charlotte council members to consider higher garbage fees for apartments

The City Council may increase the garbage collection fee for apartments from $25 a year per unit to $56.
The City Council may increase the garbage collection fee for apartments from $25 a year per unit to $56.

Instead of approving a small property tax increase, Charlotte City Council may raise the fees that apartments pay each year for trash collection, from $25 to $56 per unit.

The city had been considering eliminating trash service completely for apartments. But a number of apartment owners and nonprofits complained that would hurt low-income tenants.

The new proposal would allow apartments to keep using city trash service. But starting in spring 2017, the service would no longer be subsidized with property taxes. The city would levy a “full service” garbage fee that would cover the entire cost of collection.

A majority of council members voted for more information on the idea at a budget workshop Wednesday. They will vote on that proposal and others on May 25.

City Manager Ron Carlee said Wednesday he thinks it’s OK to charge apartments $56 per unit for trash service, while single-family homes pay $25 a year. He said apartments could be considered “investment property” and a “commercial operation.”

The increase would translate to a rent increase of $2.58 per month, assuming the landlord passed the increase to tenants.

In the first full year of the higher fees, the city would collect an additional $3.2 million.

Condominiums and townhomes wouldn’t be affected by the proposal to increase the garbage fee to $56. Budget director Kim Eagle said the city may exempt nonprofits from the higher fee.

Council could also decide to follow Carlee’s original recommendation of a 0.43 cent property tax increase, or slightly less than 1 percent. That would raise $4 million. It would primarily be used to pay for 50 new police officers.

Council member Julie Eiselt proposed the city spend an additional $1.1 million to hire 13 more police officers, in addition to the 50.

Council members will also consider spending more than $400,000 for street sweeping and litter pickup, a proposal made by council member John Autry.

The city may also increase the garbage fee paid by single-family homes by $3, from $25 to $28 a year.

Steve Harrison: 704-358-5160, @Sharrison_Obs