By JIMMY LAWTON
OGDENSBURG – Ogdensburg’s city manager and interim public works superintendent are searching for a plan to reduce costs stemming from brush pickups.
Gregg Harland, interim public works director, said the DPW spent 3,184 man-hours on brush collection last year. That’s equivalent to about 1.5 full-time jobs, according to city manager John Pinkerton.
Harland said the DPW is struggling to keep up with workload because of reduced staff numbers.
“We have 23 workers where we used to have 29. The numbers are way down. There is more work and less people,” he said.
Harland said he does not want to do away with brush removal, but was concerned about the time it was eating up, especially in the summer when city crews are paving roads.
He said paving is dependent on weather and also requires the rental of miller. He said the machine isn’t always available and the city has to take advantage of it when it can.
“I understand you can’t take a service away without an alternative,” he said.
Pinkerton suggested moving from the current weekly model to once every two weeks for one season as a trial.
He said the city should try this method out for the summer and then collect information from city residents regarding what they liked and didn’t like about it.
He also suggested sharing with city residents the time saved by the DPW as well as other work that was accomplished with the extra time.
Pinkerton this would give residents a perspective on the issue they might not currently see.
Harland suggested limiting brush pickup to certain days for each ward. He also suggested implementing fines for people who put brush out when it is not scheduled for pick up.
He said this model is used by Syracuse and seems to work well.
Harland also said he would be willing to let people dump brush in the city landfill five days a week, since the Department of Environmental Conservation requires the site to be manned anyway.
He said many people would be willing to dump materials themselves if given the opportunity. Currently the landfill is only accessible two days per week.
Despite a lengthy discussion among the board, no consensus was reached. Ogdensburg Mayor Bill Nelson asked Pinkerton and Harland to get together and come up with a plan for the city to consider. He agreed that change is needed, but also cautioned that the city is working on beautification. He said earlier attempts and reducing brush pickup led to a lot of debris in the city and reduction in appearance.
“Whatever we do. We need to make sure we have a good process,” he said.