Winston-Salem’s new city manager is changing it up.
Monday evening’s city council meeting showcased a new agenda item that will make a regular appearance at council meetings from now on: a city manager report.
While he’s only a month into his new role, Winston-Salem’s new City Manager Pat Pate is already coloring outside of the lines drawn by previous city managers and will give presentations at the beginning of each council meeting. His predecessor Lee Garrity didn’t have a specific time set aside for his comments.
Winston-Salem’s new feature follows in the footsteps of neighboring Greensboro, which has had comment periods for their city managers during council meetings for several years now. That’s changed recently, too. Their reports used to go at the end of Greensboro’s meetings. But this March, City Manager Taiwo Jaiyeoba began saying his piece near the start of the agenda.
Winston-Salem’s Pate used his time on Monday evening to draw attention to a roundup of items, from holiday events to city operations.
“We want to make sure that we are updating you and the community on a few things that are going on,” Pate told councilmembers.
Pate drew attention to nominations for this year’s Martin Luther King Jr. Young Dreamers Awards. The city is looking for two young adult leaders who have made a “tangible difference in the lives of those who may have otherwise been overlooked, ignored or disadvantaged” to be selected for the honor, according to a press release from the city. They must be city residents between 18-40 years old, nominations are open to the public and must be received by Dec. 14. The city seeks people who have done “outstanding work” in the community that is “in the spirit of how Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. lived and encouraged others to live.”
Pate also made sure to mention this year’s holiday parade, which will begin and end at Corpening Plaza on Dec. 2 at 5 p.m.
One of the issues Pate touched on was the fact that the city has been struggling with staff retention and hiring.
“I know council has been concerned about our hiring rate,” Pate said.
Then he revealed some good news: He’d just attended his second employee orientation that day, surmising that he’d greeted more than 50 new employees.
“That’s a good sign that we’re making good progress there,” he noted.
The manager’s minute also included a chat about this year’s leaf collection, which is going smoothly per city staff and councilmembers. Pate called upon Assistant City Manager Aaron King to give residents an update. According to King, the weather, staffing levels and leaf collecting equipment have cooperated this fall. During last year’s leaf collection season, they did not.
“We talked a lot about leaf collection last year, and it was not always a fun conversation to be had,” King said.
This year, the city started collecting leaves on Oct. 30, with the first round of collection already completed in around two-thirds of the city.
“I get more calls on leaves than pretty much everything else combined,” West Ward Councilmember Robert Clark said.
This year, Clark has “yet to get a call.” In his ward, he sees “piles disappearing every day.”
This juxtaposes with Greensboro’s leaf-collection changes, which were approved by council in August. This fall marks Greensboro’s last season of loose-leaf collection. Next year, there will be no more vacuum trucks, no more raking leaves to the edge of the street.
Beginning March 1, residents must use only biodegradable paper bags for yard waste such as leaves, as well as a large cart that will be provided to residents by summertime.
The city has also promoted a movement that will not only ease the city’s collection responsibilities, but help out the environment, too. It’s called “leave the leaves.”
As part of the effort, city staff is encouraging residents to keep leaves on their lawns or mulch them instead of raking and bagging them.
“Letting leaves naturally decompose where they land creates natural mulch that enriches the soil and creates a habitat and food for beneficial microorganisms, insects and small wildlife, among other environmental benefits,” a city press release states.
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