Turn a switch, and the lights come on. Push a handle, and the toilet flushes. Take the garbage to the street, and it’s gone. For many of us, life is that simple. But we all depend on hundreds of employees of the City of Fayetteville and the County of Cumberland to take care of business for us.
In computer science, “garbage collection” is a term that refers to a form of automated memory management. For homeowners, garbage collection is something we all do once a week: take out the trash. It’s important that residents appreciate the difference between collection and disposal. Locally, the City of Fayetteville or private haulers collect household garbage. The County of Cumberland disposes of it. In part one of a two-part series, Up & Coming Weekly is focusing on collection.
In the city, homeowners pay for trash collection as part of their yearly property taxes. Environmental Service is what’s called an enterprise fund. The cost of collecting garbage is offset in part by a fee tacked on to annual tax bills, and the fees don’t cover the entire cost. It’s a major expense for any big city. Beginning July 1, the so-called solid waste fee went up from $44 to $108 per residence per year.
“The estimated solid waste fee revenues for FY18 (including projected collections of current year fees, past due fees from prior years and interest) are $6,718,613,” said city spokesman Nathan Walls. A subsidy from the general fund this year was reduced from $8 million to $4 million. That’s one reason city council didn’t raise the property tax rate. “For Fiscal Year 2018, the budget was generated assuming services for 62,672 households,” added Walls. Fully-automated trucks are now used for neighborhood trash collection, which, according to officials, has reduced the payroll by 50 workers in recent years. Apartment dwellers and business owners don’t pay this fee because they use private garbage companies.
The city used to call their pickup service the sanitation department. Then it was the solid waste department. Now, it’s the environmental division of the public service department. “To collect household trash in a more economical and efficient manner, the city asks residents to follow guidelines,” said the city’s website.
These regulations are often misunderstood or confusing for a sizeable percentage of citizens. Officials believe well over half the single-family homes in Fayetteville are rentals.
City Ordinance 22-10 outlines the regulations. Green and blue city-approved roll-out garbage and recycling carts must be placed at the curb one to two feet from the street. Handles should face the house. Carts are to be placed at least four feet from each other and other objects. Trash bags left on the ground or in non-approved containers will not be collected. Resident-generated construction debris will cost an additional $50 fee. Debris generated by contractors will not be collected, and that includes carpeting. Next week in part two, the focus will be on what happens to the garbage once it’s collected.