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Quick and Dirty

Off the Record

By Edward Ericson Jr. | Posted 5/11/2005

The Midtown Community Benefits District lost its executive director last week, and its board met in secret to discuss what to do next. “Our executive director resigned and we discussed how we’re going to deal with that,” Rusty Carbaugh, chairman of the nonprofit quasi-governmental agency’s board, said last Thursday, May 5, the morning after the meeting at the Peabody Court Hotel.

Just how the group will deal with the resignation of Charles Smith, Carbaugh said, “is not a matter of public record.”

Smith, who has been with the organization since its 1996 founding and took over the directorship in 2003, would not say why he quit either, writing in an e-mail to City Paper that “I would love to talk to you but the board has instructed me otherwise.” His resignation is effective June 30, he wrote.

The Midtown Community Benefits District collects a property tax assessment on top of the state assessment, currently $1.32 per $1,000 of assessed value, and uses the money to fund a staff of about 19 workers, most of whom are paid about $9 per hour to pick up trash and help maintain the parks in the 150-block area comprising the Mount Vernon/Belvedere, Madison Park, Charles North, and Bolton Hill neighborhoods. For the past two years or so Midtown board members have debated whether to save money by outsourcing the services to the lowest bidder (“Cash or Trash,” Mobtown Beat, April 23, 2003; “Mount Vernon as Dupont Circle?” The Mail, April 27, 2005).

“That is one of the things our board is struggling with,” Carbaugh said in an interview in late April. “If we can say we can save 25 cents on the dollar, would we do that? It’s sort of a moral issue.”

Carbaugh said outsourcing—or, at least, competitive bidding—had carried the day. An RFP (request for proposals) will be put out in a month or two.

Carbaugh said the RFP would require any bidder to hire the current workers. “That would be a one-time only thing, though,” he said. “For just the first contract.”

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