Listed below are the service areas selected for study:

Residential Refuse Collection

This is regularly scheduled collection of household refuse or "garbage" from residential premises and other locations, including small businesses, using containers small enough that residents and/or workers can move or lift them manually. The service excludes collection of waste from dumpsters, regular or special collections of yard waste and leaves, collection of recyclable materials, white good, other bulky item, and any special or nonroutine service provided to residences. Transportation of refuse to a landfill or to a transfer station is included, but the disposal of refuse and tipping costs are excluded.

Household Recycling

This includes both curbside collection of household recyclable materials from residences and certain other locations and the drop-off of such materials by citizens at recycling stations or centers. The recyclable materials collected are mainly aluminum and steel cans, plastics, glass bottles, newspapers, magazines, and cardboard. The curbside portion of this service involves regularly scheduled collection that utilizes containers small enough that residents and/or workers can move or lift them. Excluded are collection of yard waste, leaves, and commercial recycling.

Yard Waste/Leaf Collection

Yard waste and leaf collection includes regularly scheduled or special collection of these items. Such collection may occur from the curb, backyard, or other locale. Yard waste and leaves may be bagged, placed in containers, or loose. The service definition excludes the collection of white goods and other bulky items. Although some cities collect yard waste and leaves with household refuse or other trash, they do separate the two at some point in the collection process because yard waste and leaves cannot be placed in landfills.

Police Services

Police services consists of all police activities performed by sworn and non-sworn personnel. This includes, but is not limited to, activities performed by patrol, traffic, investigations, special units, support staff, supervisors, and police administration. This definition captures all functions of the police department except for emergency communications.

Emergency Communications

This service refers to the receipt and handling of 911 and other calls by a police emergency communications center. Such a center must answer all calls, including those that come in over 911 lines and others that come over regular phone lines. Some calls result in the dispatch of a police or other emergency response unit. Others do not.

Asphalt Maintenance & Repair

Asphalt maintenance & repair includes the activities of pothole repair, repaving, surface treatment, structure adjustments, milling, and utility cuts. It does not include reconstruction, handicap ramps, storm drainage, sidewalks, curb and gutter, row maintenance, street cleaning and sweeping, pavement marking, lane widening, unpaved street maintenance, or snow and ice removal.

Fire Services

Fire Services refers to the activities and programs relating to the prevention and suppression of fires, responses to calls for service, rescue service (if provided), fire inspections (if provided), responses to hazardous materials calls (if provided), and fire education services. The services provided by fire departments vary from city to city, but the common goal remains the same: to protect the lives and property of the community served.

Building Inspections

Building Inspections refers to permit issuance and inspections for building, electrical, mechanical (heating and cooling), and plumbing work on new residential and commercial construction or additions and alterations to enforce the North Carolina State Building Code and related local building regulations. The inspection process includes the receipt of permit applications, review of plans and specifications, issuance of permits, and follow-up field inspections to insure compliance. Excluded are the enforcement of zoning and subdivision regulations, fire codes, minimum housing codes, erosion and sedimentation control regulations, watershed regulations, historic preservation ordinances, and other development regulations or plans.

Fleet Maintenance

Fleet maintenance represents the scheduled and unscheduled maintenance of rolling stock performed by the central garage and by contractual work assigned by the central garage. This includes preventive, predictive, corrective, and breakdown maintenance. Excluded from this definition are rolling stock not maintained by the central garage and the broader activities of fleet services such as rolling stock replacement and disposal, fuel station, and pool vehicle management.

Central Human Resources

Central Human Resources represents an internal support service. It is characterized by various functions related to the daily management of human capital or personnel, including compensation analysis, position classification, benefits administration, management of employee training and development, employee relations, position control, employee performance evaluations, recruitment and selection, occupational heath, wellness, and safety programs, administration of a Human Resources Information System (HRIS), and general administration of the central Human Resources office. Excluded from the counts here are staff who may be assisting with certain human resource functions but who are not in the central human resources department, such as employees who might be assigned to individual departments. Also excluded from this service area is risk financing, including general liability insurance and workers’ compensation.

Water Services

Water Services includes the collection, treatment, distribution, and billing related to drinking water services.    This service area includes reservoirs where appropriate, pumping stations, pipes to and from treatment plants, storage tanks, and treatment plants.  Activities and costs include the operation, maintenance, and installation of infrastructure.  Also included are costs and activities associated with the installation, upkeep, and reading of meters, billing and collection costs for drinking water services, and administrative activities such as planning, engineering, and testing.  Excluded are reclaimed water, sewer collection, and waste water treatment services.

Wastewater Services

Wastewater Services includes the collection, treatment, wastewater discharge, solids disposal, and billing related to sewer services. This service area includes the collection system after leaving the customer’s outlet, lift stations, pretreatment, and treatment plants. Activities and costs include the operation, maintenance, and installation of infrastructure. Also included are costs and activities associated with billing and collection for sewer services and administrative activities such as planning, engineering, and testing. This includes wastewater treated for reuse at the plant site and for other purposes. Excluded are potable water systems and stormwater systems.

Core Parks and Recreation Services

Parks and Recreation includes both passive and active recreation opportunities maintained and operated by a local government.  For the purposes of this benchmarking effort, this will include core operational functions such as parks, multi-purpose recreation facilities, athletic facilities, greenways, and trails.  This also includes programs and events.

However, Parks and Recreation departments frequently may include a variety of other activities and facilities.  To support reasonable comparisons, this service benchmarking excludes these secondary recreational activities, including performance venues, museums, historic sites, golf courses, marinas/boat ramps, and professional stadiums.  Also excluded are other non-recreational activities sometimes performed by parks and recreation departments, such as care of cemeteries; maintenance of right-of-ways along city streets; maintenance of facilities owned by a municipality but not parks-related; and maintenance of city lots.  The dollars and people associated with these secondary and non-park activities are excluded.