By Jacob Mathias
City leaders are considering switching to a leaf vacuuming system to help with the fall cleanup.
Currently, homeowners have to bag their leaves and set them on the curb for pickup by the city. Once the leaves are picked up, the bags get left behind and, according to city officials, are blown around the city.
Public Works Superintendent James Borski said more residents are requesting vacuum services for their fall cleanup chores, though there are pros and cons to every system. He added leaves and pine needles will also be subject to blowing by natural winds prior to being vacuumed.
“The homeowners won’t have to bag leaves anymore,” said Borksi who presented the idea to city leaders.
Borski estimated that a vacuum system would run the city about $30,000 and he recommends buying two units if the city uses this option. Borski said there is money available in the department’s machinery fund to purchase the vacuums.
“If we buy one and we tell everybody ‘put your leaves in the street’ and our vacuum breaks down then we’ve got to come up with another method for picking them up out of the street,” said Borski.
It’s estimated that the current system of picking up the bag leaves, using two city workers and a truck, costs the city $90.13 per hour. With the vacuum system, which would require two trucks for one vacuum, it’s expected to cost about $166 per hour. With the two truck system one can be delivering a load of leaves for disposal while another gets filled with leaves.
“I would think at the same time your efficiency may go up and your ease to homeowners would go up,” said Borski.
He said the efficiency probably won’t outweigh the increased cost but the decrease in plastic bags from a monetary and waste standpoint would put an ease on the homeowners.
Alderman Thomas Rayome of District 4 asked if Borski could come back to the Council with more accurate information on equipment and usage costs, as well as other municipalities use of the leaf vacuum system.
Due to fall cleanup timelines and city government process, Borski said it will be difficult to get the vacuums in place this fall but could be ready for springtime cleanup.
No action was taken regarding instituting a vacuum system but will be brought back before the city in October for further consideration.
The Public Works Committee meets gain on October 6 at 6 PM in the first floor conference room of City Hall.