Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Brush Removal Could Cost Residents

by Jonny Griffith

Athens City Council is proposing to charge Athens residents for grass and brush removal. Currently the city picks up yard waste on Tuesdays and Fridays for free, if residents simply call the department requesting the removal. The system is funded through resident income taxes, but with an average annual cost of $50,000 for the service, the city is looking for a change.

According to the Director of the Athens City Street Maintenance Department, Andrew Stone, the proposal given to City Council would charge Athens residents $1.50 for the removal of each bundle of grass or brush. This charge matches the current fee residents pay for each extra bundle of grass and brush. If passed, Stone expects the proposal to save Athens $25,000, which is half of the current annual cost of the service.

Senior OU student Brandon Zimmerman says he understands the need for the City of Athens to find ways to cut costs, but he still does not support the proposal. He says if indeed the city starts charging for each bundle of yard waste, then he will just take his own waste to the dump or just do less yard work.

Despite the possibility of being charged for the removal of grass and brush, Athens Resident Matt Hawk says he understands why the city is looking to make a change.

Matt Hawk-Athens City Resident

According to Stone, residents have taken advantage of the free service, oftentimes loading entire trucks with their own brush. With this fact in mind, Hawk says that he believes residents will learn to embrace the proposal if passed, even if there is initial opposition.

Matt Hawk-Athens City Resident

Stone says he expects the residential use of the grass and brush removal service to drop 25%. He has seen an abuse of trash removal as stickers have come into use, as some residents have resorted to dumping trash on the side of the road or in the woods to save money. If the proposal is passed, Stone says there is a potential for a similar practice to come into action with grass and brush.

City Council has been working with this proposal for a couple of years now, but Stone says he expects the plan to finally become official by the summer months.

Grass and brush bundle requirements:
• No dirt or trash
• No construction debris
• No more than 50 lbs.

• Limbs or trees can be no more than 4”-6” in diameter
• Limbs or trees can be no more then 4 feet long
• Must be tied with rope or string
• One person can lift it (50 lbs. limit)
• All bundles should be placed at curb

-Athens Street Department

For grass or brush removal call (740) 592-3343 or visit the Athens Street Department website for more information.

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