Public works committee to hear recommendations about operational changes in sanitation department

Sanitation laborer Todd Samuels
Staff from the Winston-Salem Sanitation Department will present recommendations for addressing operational concerns raised by employees at a meeting of the public works committee of city council at 5 p.m. today.

The committee is chaired by West Ward Councilman Robert Clark. Other members include East Ward Councilman Derwin Montgomery, North Ward Councilwoman Denise D. Adams and Southwest Ward Councilman Dan Besse.

The committee also plans to review measures recommended by the Citizens' Organizational Efficiency Review Committee to save the city money. Relevant to concerns raised by sanitation drivers and laborers about friction with residential customers, the committee recommends introducing more stringent requirements for qualifying for backyard garbage collection, saving the city an estimated $114,000.

The committee is also considering a recommendation to raise fees for parking violations from $10 to $25. The proposal has caught the attention of the Downtown Winston-Salem Partnership. Downtown business owners have voiced concerns that the fee increase would negatively affect downtown activity, at the urging of Jason Thiel, the partnership president.

Raising the fine amount would bring in an additional $210,000 in revenue, the city estimates. Should council approve the increase, Winston-Salem's minimum fines would be equal to Charlotte's and higher than Greensboro, Raleigh and Durham, which are respectively set at $15, $20 and $10.

The city is looking at ways to reduce costs in its brush collection program. City staff estimated that eliminating the program altogether could save the city $2 million, according to a memo by Budget & Evaluation Director Ben Rowe. The city estimates that converting brush collection to an on-call, fee-based service could save up to $991,000. Brush collection is currently offered to residents free of charge. The organizational efficiency review committee found that reducing frequency of pickup from once every two weeks to once a month would save the city $1.3 million and result in a reduction of 23 full-time equivalent positions. 

Other recommendations include

• Increasing fees for Dumpster garbage collection to break even on the program, at a savings of $122,000;

• Increasing annual fees to residential customers for yard cart service from $60 to $65 to generate $73,000 in additional revenue and cover the full cost of the program;

• Increasing fees for opening plots at New Evergreen Cemetery by 10 percent, from $700 to $770 for adults and from $600 to $660 for children, creating an additional $42,000 in revenue. 

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