Leaves, the Sewer, and This Election

Last August, I told you about the critical situation we faced with our sewer and explained how it related to our decision to contract with ACE for garbage, recycling, and yard debris pickup.  As I told you then, we were only 3% of the way through a critical, mandatory project  would cost us HUGE fines if not completed correctly and on time.   A large part of the reason for this is that our Public Works Department was (and had been for quite some time) seriously under-resourced.  They lacked both the equipment and personnel to do the critical sewer work. Councilman Gooch, who has been on Council longer than I have, has been doing a series of Facebook posts that go into a great deal of detail about the budget decisions made by previous administrations that left our Public Works Department so under-resourced.  These posts are definitely worth a read.

The state of the Public Works Department when we entered office was such that we had no other choice but to contract some of its services.  Doing so opened up resources for other areas within the Public Works Department, such as the necessary and urgent sewer repairs.

Certainly, bagging leaves and bundling debris was no one’s ideal situation, and Council understands that citizens are unhappy and want answers.  This is why in this year’s budget we found a fiscally sustainable way to resume our previous curbside brush pickup.  Leaves are next.

Being a Council member isn’t easy.  And we are often faced with tough decisions like the one we faced with the Public Works Department.  We didn’t create those problems, but it is our responsibility to fix them.  Since January of 2016, we have inspected and cleaned 57% of our sewer lines.  We repaired 32,000 feet of CIPP pipe lining. 15 point repairs have been made.  500 feet of sewer replacement has been completed, and 6 creek crossings have been rebuilt. Those are huge gains. All of that was made possible by reallocating our scarce resources within the Public Works Department.

I know that’s little comfort to those still struggling with leaf bagging.  But I also know this: Council is committed to finding a fiscally sustainable way to get us back to curbside leaf pickup.  When we can, we will.  We’re working on it every day.  And I look forward to working with our new Council members to make it happen.

Listen: it’s an election year, and leaves are the hot topic.  And so, of course, the candidates are all talking about it.  And many of them promise answers.  It’s easy to make promises, especially if you don’t have all the facts.  So when they’re talking to you about leaf vacs, I would encourage you not to accept any easy answers.  If it were easy, I can guarantee you we would’ve done it already. But it’s not.  It’s much more complicated than the going through the budget line by line to find money for trucks.  It’s much more complicated than the need for equipment.  If they’re talking to you about allegedly fiscally sustainable options but not explaining how to do that without sacrificing the critical sewer needs, they’re not giving you real solutions.