The city is offering is offering a $5,000 reward to anyone providing information or evidence of illegal dumping of grease and other toxins in the sanitary sewer lines.
Raleigh City Council members Tuesday increased the reward from $1,000 to $5,000 after the 4-year-old program failed to entice any whistleblowers. The public utilities department will also be stepping up its education and communication efforts.
City staff will now be allowed to participate in the program.
Assistant Public Utilities Director Kenny Waldroup told Councilors the increase was in response to PCBs and other toxic materials being dumped into sanitary sewer systems in North and South Carolina.
Earlier this month, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg utilities department confirmed that toxic waste had been dumped into its sanitary sewer system.
Here in Raleigh, a memo from public utilities staff states that there is evidence of at least one or more septage haulers and food preparation establishments illegally dumping grease into the sanitary sewer system.
Grease buildup is the primary cause of sewer overflows. Waldroup said it costs the city $5,000 every time the department needs to respond to an overflow. The city spends $7 million per year maintaining the sewer system.
Councilors Thomas Crowder and Wayne Maiorano initially questioned the reward increase.
“$5,000 is a pretty significant number,” said Crowder. “Is it worth it?”
Maiorano was also concerned about what staff had done in the past to educate people about the reward.
“I don’t know what we’ve done to make the $1,000 work before we can exponentially increase it,” he said.
Previously, Waldroup said that the city put information on its website and sent out mailers.
Those found dumping illegal waste down the sanitary sewer lines are fined $25,000 per day, per offense. According to state law, at least 90 percent of the collected fines are remitted to the school district. The city can keep up to 10 percent of the fines for administrative fees, but can’t fund the reward program using fines. The city can also pursue criminal and civil charges.
City, Summit Hospitality Finally Reach Agreement
City Councilors and Summit Hospitality have finally come to an agreement that will bring another hotel downtown.
Councilors voted 6 to 1 in favor of the sale.
Thomas Crowder was the lone dissenting vote; Councilor Mary-Ann Baldwin was absent from the meeting.
Summit Hospitality Group plans to build an 11-story Marriott Residence Inn on a half-acre property on Salisbury Street between South and South Lenoir streets near the Raleigh Convention Center.
The city sold the land to Summit for $1.73 million.
A request for proposal for the property was released in February 2012, but it took two years for Summit to begin working on the agreement with the city.
Much of the recent delay stemmed from disagreements about construction material.
While the majority of the building must made out of durable and lasting materials, Councilors agreed to allow Summit to use Exterior Insulation and Finishing Systems, a cheaper building material, on 10 percent of the upper floors on the three sides facing the street.
Crowder, an architect, said in a previous Budget and Economic Development Committee meeting that the material should be banned outright from the project.
Summit representatives asked that some allowance be made for cost efficiency.
Dog Decision Delayed
Councilors have asked staff to do more digging into an alternative to banning dogs from certain areas of Raleigh’s park system.
Staff will report back in four weeks.
Residents who spoke out during last week’s Public Works Committee meeting said they are in favor of prohibiting dogs from playgrounds, but did not want to see dogs banned from ballfields.
Councilor Wayne Maiorano wants Parks and Recreation staff to look into the legal requirements for reallocating space in existing parks for use by dogs.
The city already has rules on the books that require owners to pick up after dogs and keep them leashed in public spaces. The city has three public dog parks.
City Councilors approved the following road races. Residents can keep track of road races and street closures on the city’s website.
Race: St. Patty’s Run Green and Kilt Run to benefit the National MS Society Location: South Blount Street near Hargett and Martin streets
Date and Time: 2 p.m. Saturday March 1
Race: Joyner Elementary School
Location: 2300 Lowden Street
Length: Not specified
Date and Time: 1 p.m. Sunday, March 9
Attendees: Not specified
Race: Sola/USO 5K
Location: Greystone Village, 7713 Lead Mine Road
Date and Time: 7:30 a.m. Saturday, March 29
Race: North Carolina Victim Assistance Network Memorial 5K
Location: East Lane Street near Person Street
Date and Time: 7 a.m. Saturday, April 19
Race: Midtown road race
Location: North Hills Shopping Center
Length: Half marathon, 10K and 5K
Date and Time: 7 a.m. Saturday, June 7
Attendees: Not specified
Race: Chick-fil-a race series benefiting the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation and the Cure Starts Now Foundation
Location: North Ridge Country Club
Length: 5k and 10k
Date and Time: 7:30 – 10:30 a.m. Saturday, March 22
Attendees: No estimate specified