Alibi V.20 No.18 • May 5-11, 2011 

Council Watch

Curbside Recycling

Albuquerque City Council will once again feature adoptable shelter animals. At the Monday, May 2 meeting, two dogs and a cat were shown via photos instead of being brought into the Council chambers, as they used to be under Councilor Sally Mayer. Either way, it is good to have the furry friends back.

The Council adopted the Volcano Cliffs Sector Development Plan. It covers 2,327 acres bounded by the Petroglyph National Monument and Open Space on the east, south and west, and Paseo del Norte on the north. The plan outlines mixed-use, bike-friendly development and avoids visual intrusions near the petroglyphs.

The next meeting is set for 5 p.m. on Monday, May 16 in the Council Chambers in the basement of City Hall.

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Mayor Richard Berry asked the Council to start negotiations with Friedman Recycling to set up and run a 65,000-square-foot plant within the city limits. The public-private partnership would allow the city to start accepting a wider variety of materials and boost the recycling rate from 5 percent to about 20 percent .
It was not a clean sweep. Councilors Ken Sanchez and Rey Garduño said recycling should stay in-house. Garduño said it makes sense for the city to keep the recycling business, especially if it makes money. Solid Waste Deputy Director Jill Holbert said with the partnership, city residents could have carts to haul recyclables to their curbs by the end of the summer. The Council approved the partnership 7 to 2, with Sanchez and Garduño voting against it. It is way past time for the city to improve its curbside recycling. The proposed plant will save the city a chunk of change—and could bring in money after it gets going. Today, the city spends $800,000 on its recycling program. The Friedman contract is projected to cost only $110,000. Revenue from the deal could start coming in to the city after the first year. Plus, there’s the environmental benefit: City documents show the average Albuquerque household generates between 36 pounds and 72 pounds of recyclable materials each month.

The Council debated accepting a report about whether to outsource the internal auditor position. The report took a look at Bernalillo County and other municipalities that outsource the job to see if there are any real benefits. It concluded that while Bernalillo County is pleased with its arrangement, the city would not reap much benefit.
Councilor Dan Lewis did not like the report, saying that the very department that would be outsourced wrote it. Garduño said audits are strange animals and he did not think an outside group could do as thorough a job. Councilor Brad Winter said he could see both sides, but sometimes an external auditor has an advantage. The report was accepted with the promise of more discussion later. When examining government workings and workers, there is plenty of room for eyes both inside and out. Maybe there is a way for internal and external auditors to work together to scrutinize City Hall and its business.