Statements made at City Council meetings often play fast and loose with the truth, but the statement made by City Councilmember Marikay Abuzuaiter at the Thursday, Aug. 15 meeting was that the city wasn’t doing exactly what it was doing.

In the discussion about the program to end loose leaf collection in Greensboro and require residents to either place their leaves in biodegradable paper bags or in the 95 gallon bin that the city will provide, Abuzuaiter said, “I want to make it very, very clear to those listening and watching we are not ending loose leaf collection. We are not ending loose leaf collection. We are just going to pick it up in a different manner.”

A few minutes later the City Council voted 7-2, with Councilmembers Zack Matheny and Hugh Holston voting no, to end loose leaf collection beginning in the fall of 2024.

Bagged and canned leaves are not loose leaves. The whole debate was about whether to continue the current practice of the city, which is to vacuum up piles of loose leaves raked or blown to the street by residents, or to end the practice of collecting loose leaves and requiring residents to place the leaves in bags or in the city provided container in order to be picked up.

Despite what Abuzuaiter repeatedly stated, the council voted to end loose leaf collection and, according to Deputy City Manager Chris Wilson, if in the fall of 2024, residents pile their loose leaves at the street rather than have the city pick up and dispose of those leaves, the resident will be charged with a code violation and be subject to fines and penalties.

Both Matheny and Holston noted when they spoke that the city was in fact ending loose leaf collection, but it is somewhat surprising that none of the other six members of City Council who favored ending loose leaf collection spoke up to correct Abuzuaiter for the public.

Matheny said, “We literally in the last two years by a majority vote of council have raised taxes by $120 million. That’s a lot of money and now we’re taking a service away. I don’t think that’s very appropriate.”

Holston said, “We talked about doing a trial program.  The loose leaf collection and trial was done in the summer, the summer when leaves are still on the trees. At the very least there should be a real trial like a real business would do.”

Holston added, “There is a savings being promoted as part of this program.  There is a savings for the city, but the cost burden is being shoved over to the property taxpayer, to the property owner that has to purchase those bags and purchase the equipment to make it easier to get leaves into the bags.  So there is a savings, but a savings for everyone, and we have raised property taxes for the past two terms.”