The Greensboro City Council passed two items related to ending loose leaf collection at the Tuesday, Jan. 2 meeting.
Both votes were 6-2 with Councilmembers Zack Matheny and Hugh Holston voting no. Councilmember Yvonne Johnson was absent.
The two items – one to approve a contract of $369,000 with Schaefer Plastics North America LLC to assemble and deliver 75,000 yard waste carts to residents of Greensboro and the second to approve borrowing $4.1 million to pay for the purchase of the yard waste carts – were discussed together, but voted on separately.
Matheny questioned Assistant City Manager Larry Davis about financial aspects of the limited obligation bonds that would be sold to borrow the $4.1 million and the cost of financing that debt. Davis said he didn’t have the figures for what the total cost of borrowing $4.1 million for 20 years would be.
Matheny asked for those figures and said, “I would love for you to send that to us, so that we as City Council would actually know the amount of money we are talking about.”
Matheny also questioned the purported savings that city staff asserts the city will realize from ending the loose leaf collection program, since the city doesn’t know the actual cost of borrowing the money to buy, assemble and deliver the yard waste carts.
Holston made the point that the city was not actually saving money but transferring the cost of leaf collection to the residents who will be required to buy paper bags for their leaves at about 50 cents a bag.
A number of residents spoke against ending the loose leaf collection program citing the time, expense and additional labor that would be involved in placing the massive amount of leaves the trees in the city produce into paper bags.
It was something of a surprise for so many people to speak against ending the loose leaf collection program when there was so little opposition in April when the City Council discussed ending loose leaf collection and all but one councilmember supported making a switch. There was also little opposition in August when the City Council voted to end loose leaf collection at the end of the 2023-2024 leaf season and eliminate plastic bags for yard waste on March 1, 2024.