The agenda for the Tuesday, Jan. 2 Greensboro City Council meeting has had some significant changes since it was released last week.

On the original agenda, approval of the $369,000 contract with Schaefer Plastics North America LLC to assemble and delivery the 75,000 new 95-gallon grey yard waste carts was on the Consent Agenda. Items on the Consent Agenda are supposed to be routine and noncontroversial items that are all passed with one vote.  According to City Council policy, items on the Consent Agenda may not be discussed by councilmembers. This policy is routinely ignored when Councilmember Sharon Hightower wants to discuss an item, but is also routinely enforced for the other eight members of the City Council.

On the City Council agenda that is currently on the city website, the contract with Shaeffer Plastics for the yard waste bins has been moved to the General Business Agenda, which means that the public may comment on the agenda item and city councilmembers may discuss it.

Also added to the General Business Agenda is an item “to amend the Capital Leasing Fund Appropriation in the Amount of $4,169,000 from proposed Financing Activities.”

According to the agenda, “Limited Obligation bond financing will be needed to fund appropriations for the purchase of additional yard waste carts ($3,747,000 – cart material and $369,000 – assembly and delivery along with $53,000 for estimated bond issue costs).”

So, as it turns out, despite massive property tax increases in the past two years, the city doesn’t have the funds to purchase, assemble and deliver the new yard waste carts and will have to borrow that money and that increases the cost to the city by adding in the cost of the bonds.

According to the Field Operations Department presentation, five new vehicles will also have to be purchased for collection of the yard waste carts and the paper bags of yard waste, which residents will be required to use for yard waste including leaves that are in excess of what will fit in the yard waste cart. So far there is no item on the agenda that covers the cost of these new vehicles.

So, the $4.1 million that the city plans to borrow to pay for the yard waste carts, assembly and delivery is not the total cost of ending the loose leaf collection program and initiating the yard waste cart and paper bag program. The cost of the five new vehicles will have to be added to that cost and, according to the city, the result of borrowing and spending these millions for the new program will result in a savings to the city of $10 million over 15 years.

The original agenda for the Jan. 2 City Council meeting included the contract for assembling and delivering the 75,000 yard waste carts, but not the funding to purchase the yard waste carts, which is certainly a case of putting the cart before the horse.