Council Roundup: BigBelly Cans Save Money, Council To Review Grievance Procedure

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After complaints from city employees, Councilors will soon take a look at the city’s employee grievance procedure.

Possible problems with the Civil Service Commission came to light recently when employees from the Solid Waste Services Department went to a City Council meeting to complain about the firing of a coworker. The employees said the commission always sides with the city when an employee complains about being fired unfairly.

A Record analysis of the commission shows that for the past five years the commission has sided with the city in each and every case. City records also show that in some cases Commissioners have missed almost half of the meetings held in the past five years.

The City Council sets the policy for how grievances are handled internally. There are many steps to the employee grievance process, which ends with City Manager Russell Allen. After that, employees can appeal to the Civil Service Commission. Members are appointed by the Council, but the commission follows a procedure laid out by state statute.

During Tuesday’s Council meeting, Councilor Mary-Ann Baldwin asked for staff to prepare a report that outlines how grievances are handled and what kind of timeline those grievances are supposed to follow.

Mayor Nancy McFarlane asked that the Commission’s attendance policy be included in the report to be delivered to Council members.

As part of the report, Councilor Thomas Crowder asked for Jane Doe examples of how the process would work for an employee.

Councilor Russ Stephenson asked if staff should seek comments and recommendations from the Civil Service Commission, but Baldwin said that it would inappropriate to do so now and the Council should wait until after staff provides a report.

BigBelly Cans Save Big Money

Those BigBelly trash cans scattered around the Glenwood South and Fayetteville districts are proving to be a money-saver for the city.
Solid Waste Services staff presented a report Tuesday to Councilors that shows the grant-funded cans are saving the city time and money, but also increasing revenues.

As part of the pilot program, 45 cans were placed on Fayetteville Street, Glenwood Avenue and other high-traffic parts of the city. The solar-powered cans — one for garbage and one for recyclables — compact the items, allowing for more waste to be thrown out before a pickup is necessary. The cans monitor how full the cans are and send a message to staff when they are ready to be emptied.

According to the presentation, garbage collectors were visiting Fayetteville Street 19 times a week to empty the traditional cans, costing the city about $41,000 annually. That figure includes staff time and gasoline. The Big Belly cans are emptied seven times a week, dropping the annual cost to about $1,600.
Glenwood South was seeing 14 collections a week for about $12,000 a year. The new cans are emptied less than once a week, dropping the cost to $115.

The cans encourage more people to recycle, and the city is collecting $63 per ton in recyclables.

Staff said that the department is coming up with a plan to install more throughout the city. Because of the $7,000 price tag, they recommended only putting them in high-traffic areas, where the city is already spending the most money in labor costs.

City Goes After Unlicensed Businesses

The city will hire an outside firm to track down businesses that don’t have a privilege license.

In the past, the Revenue Services Division would research and contact business owners that either don’t have a license or let their license lapse. The city will pay $500,000 to MuniServices to track down those businesses.

License fees range from $2.50 for an ice cream vendor to a $20,000 maximum for video gaming vendors. A typical fee runs between $25 and $50, and many small businesses are exempt.

Union Station and Moore Square Station Contracts Go to Committee
The Budget and Economic Development Committee will review a contract with Parsons Brinckerhoff, Inc., which will provide professional services for the Downtown Bus Facilities Master Plan. These plans include both Union Station and Moore Square Station.

The contract will cost $874,750 for both projects.

Councilors asked that the contract be put into committee for review. The committee will meet at 11 a.m. Tuesday at City Hall.

One thought on “Council Roundup: BigBelly Cans Save Money, Council To Review Grievance Procedure

  1. A $20,000 fee to be a video game vendor in the city? That seems oddly high. Any idea how that came about? Do any other business types approach a $20,000 fee?

    And does anyone actually pay the full $20,000 fee? I assume it’s likely a sliding scale and it’s probable no one actually pays that.