Loose leaf collection is always a controversial topic this time of year. Some city councilmembers are fervently against it, but so far not a majority.
Two of the arguments used to argue in favor of doing away with loose leaf collection is that other cities don’t do it and it’s too expensive. It is certainly true that some cities don’t provide loose leaf collection, but the Final Report on City Services for Fiscal Year 2017-2018 by the North Carolina School of Government shows that most of the 14 cities in the study do and Greensboro does a more cost effective job of collecting leaves than most of those cities.
According to the School of Government report cities that have loose leaf collection along with Greensboro are: Chapel Hill, Concord, Goldsboro, Greenville, Hickory, High Point, Raleigh, Wilson and Winston-Salem.
The cities that don’t have loose leaf collection are Apex, Asheville, Charlotte and Mooresville. So out of the 14 cities 10 have loose leaf collection and four don’t.
For Greensboro the cost per capita for yard waste and leaf collection is $10.50 per year while the average cost of the 14 cities per capita is $25.16 per year. In Charlotte which doesn’t have loose leaf collection the average cost per capita is $12.51. In Chapel Hill the cost is $39.55 per capita.
For Winston-Salem the cost per capita is a little above average at $28.05 and High Point is well below average at $15.89.
There does appear to be a discrepancy in this report in the tons of yard waste and leaves collected per 1,000 population. In Greensboro 82 tons per 1,000 is collected while the average is 128 tons. But Wilson collects 203 tons per 1,000, and Goldsboro is in first place with 309 tons of leaves and yard waste collected. Maybe Goldsboro only collects leaves in the rain, but it does seem unlikely that Goldsboro collects more than three times the amount of leaves and yard waste as Greensboro and five times that of High Point which collects 61 tons.
Looking at the report there is no indication that it is cheaper not to have loose leaf collection which is one of the arguments those who oppose usually make.
The primary reason that urban leaf collection is needed is quite simple. The cities have outlawed open burning which was the former way that people could get rid of their leaves. Second, without leaf collection, the storm water pipes and culverts become clogged with leaves that result in overflows and localized flooding. This causes the city workers to go out in the city and clear these pipes and culverts. Maybe our highly informed council members should get out of their crystal palaces and go out into the urban areas to see how this is a hazard or maybe even go out with some of the city workers to help clear these messes. Only in Greensboro would this become a topic of concern. Could it be due to the idiocy of our council members?