March 17, 2008

RALEIGH – The John Locke Foundation today called on most members of Raleigh City Council to disclose their ownership of garbage disposals and to disable and remove those disposals as soon as possible.

“If the city council wants to ban any new customers of Raleigh’s sewer system from installing garbage disposals, council members should show leadership by scrapping their own disposals,” said Dr. Michael Sanera, JLF Research Director and Local Government Analyst. “First, the mayor and all council members should disclose whether they own garbage disposals. Second, all council members who voted for the ban should volunteer to disable their disposals, remove them from their homes, and display them in a public setting. The public display would demonstrate to the people of Raleigh that council members are serious about leading the way in supporting this new policy.”

Raleigh City Council voted unanimously March 4 to ban any new home or business tying into the city sewer system from installing a garbage disposal. The ban took effect Monday. It does not apply to existing disposal devices, though city officials have encouraged existing disposal owners to stop grinding food scraps voluntarily. Supporters say the ban is designed to keep sewer pipes clear and to prevent sewage overflows.

Violators can be fined $25,000 a day and have their water turned off. Building inspectors enforce the new policy. It applies to customers throughout Raleigh’s system, including those in Garner, Rolesville, Wake Forest, Knightdale, Wendell, and Zebulon.

Raleigh is the only utility in North Carolina to adopt such a ban, according to a March 6 article in the News & Observer. Wake County no longer allows disposals to be connected to septic tanks, according to the article.

“We know that one council member missed the March 4 vote, and he has asked that the disposal ban be revisited,” Sanera said. “There’s no reason for him to give up his garbage disposal. Meanwhile, other council members have told the media they didn’t get enough information from city staff before voting, but they have not backed away from the disposal ban — despite a public outcry over the past two weeks. We will not ask council members to sacrifice their disposal units if they vote to end or postpone this policy.

“If city council still believes a garbage disposal ban is good public policy for Raleigh, then council members who support the policy surely should take the lead by getting rid of their own disposal units,” he said. “If they aren’t willing to make that sacrifice, why should they have the right to force other people to sacrifice new disposals?”

For more information, please contact Dr. Michael Sanera at (919) 828-3876 or [email protected]. To arrange an interview, contact Mitch Kokai at (919) 306-8736 or [email protected].