Tune in to Focus Carolina during morning, noon and evening drive times and on the weekends to hear stories from faculty members at UNC and find out what ignites their passion for their work. Focus Carolina is an exclusive program on 97.9 The Hill WCHL, sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

In the UNC School of Government. Dr. William Rivenbark is helping local governments improve the efficiency and effectiveness of public services such as waste management and recycling.

“We have a very tight mission at the school of government and it’s actually to improve the lives of North Carolinians,” Dr. Rivenbark said. “Now, how do we do that?”

The School of Government, we provide training, we provide advising and we write and research for public officials across the state.”

Dr. Rivenbark said the School of Government concentrates on local government and helps them provide services to their respective citizens within the law.

One of the areas that Dr. Rivenbark studies is how to provide recycling in the most efficient way in order to keep tax rates down.

“How do we work with local officials to ensure that they’re actually diverting waste out of the waste stream and moving it into recycling.

And this is extremely important today because if it is going to be an expensive service, you want the outcome there. You want the impact on the community where your citizens are recycling and you can extend the life of land fields which are very expensive to operate.”

According to Dr. Rivenbark, there are some communities that take the idea of citizen input very seriously.

“I’ll call out the City of Durham, I think does a very good job of doing its best to listen to its citizens,” Dr. Rivenbark said.

“They’ve tried different strategies over there. One thing that prior mayors have done is have coffees around the city. Going out and talking about the budget, listening to the citizens, trying to figure out what they want, and then bringing that back into the political process so we can produce the right document, the right budget that’s going to reflect the goals and values of the community.”

Dr. Rivenbark said he enjoys focusing on local government because it is the level of government that provides the services that citizens can see and touch on a daily basis.

“We start using local government services from the time we wake up in the morning. We use the water and we put the garbage out on the curb, too. We use the streets and the sidewalks to go to work. We consume local government services on a daily basis.”