Some things never change. Every year at this time, someone on the City Council suggests the city do away with loose leaf collection.
This year it was Councilmember Marikay Abuzuaiter who began her tirade against loose leaf collection by noting that she and Councilmember Sharon Hightower have brought up the issue over the years but have never gotten any support.
Usually, the complaint is about safety and cost and Abuzuaiter mentioned both of those, but her main complaint was a new one.
Abuzuaiter said, “We are getting more and more complaints about leaves clogging the storm drains. I know that this year there have been an inordinate amount of leaves that have come down from all the trees. I don’t know if it’s the weather or wha. t I know that field ops is trying to keep up with their contractors picking up the leaves.”
Abuzuaiter added, “It is becoming a public safety issue because some streets are almost totally blocked because of leaves in the streets. I don’t know what we can do. I know there is an ordinance that says don’t put them in the street, but people don’t want their grass to die. So, I don’t know what kind of solution we can come up with. We give people warnings. What should we do about this?”
Abuzuaiter even suggested that the city not pick up leaves at all.
According to a study done by the NC School of Government, Greensboro has one of the least expensive leaf collection procedures in the state.
That study done about five years ago found that Greensboro spends $10.50 per capita per year for yard waste and leaf collection while the average cost of the 14 cities studied was $25.16 per capita per year. Of the 14 cities studied, only four didn’t have loose leaf collection. One of the four is Charlotte, which spends $12.51 per capita per year on yard waste and leaf collection.
If the cost in Greensboro were similar to Charlotte, that would mean if Greensboro shifted to collecting bagged leaves it would spend an additional $600,000 plus per year on yard waste and leaf collection.
The cost to Greensboro to switch to collecting bagged leaves would actually be much higher because new equipment would have to be purchased to collect bagged leaves.
It is also a fact that on streets where no one has piled leaves in the street, the gutters are still filled with leaves because trees overhanging the streets drop their leaves without any regard to the problems they may cause.