Wednesday, July 18, 2007

And Finally...

Two more topics to discuss related to Monday's City Council meetings.
In a previous post, I discussed Councilor Hamilton's other business topic- racial disparities in mortgage lending (see Peter Kleeman's interesting post on the subject). However, Mr. Taliferro had some other business. His two concerns were police bonuses and trash collection.

Trash collection has been a major concern for Taliferro has mentioned it publicly at least three times in the past six weeks. This time he commended the City Manager for doing a survey- he believes it is a step in the right direction. He went on to tell the story of garbage pickup over the past thirty, forty years. He said at first the trash would be picked up twice a week (really?) by the City, then once a week, then privatizing became a big fad and the City went to stickers and private pickup. Now he says "we don’t do a good job anymore, we lost control of a private service and the service has deteriorated." Also he asked "when the contract comes up again, are we anticipating a price increase?"

The City Manager responded that the contract would be coming up for bid in the Spring and in addition to the survey currently undertaken, the City has a full-time employee following the garbage trucks around to inspect quality (which elicited a "poor thing" from Hamilton).

Taliferro is concerned that the private company will "jack up" the rates for the City and the residents will be left with terrible service and high prices. Hamilton asked whether it was possible to write a new contract that would penalize poor performance. The City Manager quickly ruled that out with "not really, [private company] can give you a bunch of reasons why things aren’t going well and it is hard to monitor these sort of things."

Taliferro then explained it may be cheaper to bring trash collection back in house. He cited the cost of the full-time employee and managing the complaints as reasons it should be looked at during the contract period. He conceded that at the time the decision was made it may have been a good deal but with the quality of service going down and the price continuing to rise, it may no longer be.

The next topic. The police department, among other departments are permitted by a resolution passed two years ago to give sign on bonuses. Taliferro is very concerned that the morale of the officers will be lowered because newbies getting these bonuses will be making more than their longer time colleagues. City Manager tried to reassure Taliferro that the City looks closely at this compression issue regularly and makes adjustments for it. Taliferro said he takes issue with the City Manager because he said it happens regularly. City Manager stated the signing bonus was used only once in the past two years.

The Daily Progress' Seth Rosen and Cville Tomorrow's Sean Tubbs provides a nice summary + podcast of the evenings festivities specifically related to McIntire/MCPW easement and stormwater management (DP/Cville Tomorrow) and cameras on the downtown mall (DP) and dont forget for thoughtful, provocative discussion.

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