Durham's Solid Waste Department is cutting four jobs to make up for a $1.1 million budget shortfall.
Director Donald Long said his department is very expensive to run. Its $16 million budget is about the same size as last year, and Long said one of the only places to cut costs is personnel.
“The services that we provide are by and large mandated by state law. So, we can't just back out of a service or a program in order to save money. We have to keep the program going, but we have to find alternative ways to try to offset the expense of a program.”
Long said remaining employees will absorb the responsibilities of an assistant manager, two code enforcement officers, and the waste reduction coordinator. That last one is the person responsible for boosting recycling in the community.
The city spends more than $4 million each year sending its solid waste to a landfill in Virginia. Durham not only saves money when it diverts from that waste stream, but the city generates revenue selling recyclable materials.
Long said the city has increased recycling by up to 10 percent in the past five years.
He said the waste reduction remains a priority for the city, but that as of July first, the coordinator's duties will now be divided within the department.
“They would not have allowed me to do away with a position and not provide them with the details on how we still plan to carry out that mission. So we're gonna continue to carry out the mission. It's just that we have to get inventive in how we do it.”
For example, Long said they won't make as many school visits, and will invite students to on field trips to learn about recycling.