GREEN Fall has arrived and with that comes leaves.
The city recently launched an online survey to gather input about what residents want to see when it comes to leaf removal. The seven question survey focuses on how homeowners feel about mulching leaves, how they would like to dispose of leaves and how much a homeowner is willing to pay for leaf removal.
Leaves that are bagged and put on the curb by residents, regardless of the type of bag, end up in the landfill. Green Mayor Gerard Neugebauer and Green Service Director Valerie Wax Carr said the city is not where they would like to see it environmentally.
"We would prefer yard waste not go to a landfill," Neugebauer said.
The city is encouraging residents to mulch their leaves in place as it is the best form environmentally to dispose of them. Mulching in place also allows for nutrients from the leaves to return to the soil.
While mulching in place may work for some residents, others would prefer different methods. Wax Carr said Kimble Recycling & Trash Disposal can expand service to pick up leaves in eco-friendly bags for an additional 98 cents per month for residents.
This would change resident’s bills from $12.32 to $13.21 per month. With this change, however, residents would have to go out and purchase the bags for the leaves. Wax Carr said it is important to note that Kimble doesn’t have vacuum equipment to collect leaves.
"We need to understand how the community feels about that service," Neugebauer said. "Everyone would be paying for it and we want to make sure there is enough need."
Another option the city could explore would be purchasing vacuum equipment to collect leaves. With this option, there are a lot of challenges as there are many rural roads and large lots. This option would also create a challenge for senior citizens who may not be able to get all their leaves to the curb to be collected. In addition, it would be costly between buying the equipment and hiring extra staff.
Wax Carr said most cities that use a vacuum program have their own sanitation crews. She said those communities likely pay much more for trash service.
Councilmembers discuss options
Councilman Ken Knodel has concerns about the survey, calling it "tainted" during a recent council meeting.
Knodel wants to see an even playing field for what residents want when it comes to leaves and he believes the city is pushing mulching in place. He also believes seven questions aren't enough to get a true feeling of what residents want.
"I am so glad we didn’t have to do this with snow removal, and that we had snow removal within the township and the city before we had to put a survey out of whether residents wanted that," Knodel said.
While Knodel believes the city doesn't have to fully provide leaf collection services, he would like to see the survey be refined. He also would like to see a paper copy of the survey for residents who do not have a computer.
Councilman Chris Humphrey, who thought the survey provided good insight, said the city shouldn’t have to go out and purchase equipment and hire labor to remove leaves from around the city. He said he has come up with some rough estimates and it would cost $15 to $16 million.
Humphrey aded that having the kind of program where crews would collect leaves in a city as large as Green is very impractical.
"Having a system where we negotiate with contractors for a favorable rate to get leaves picked up would be a better solution," Humphrey said.
Humphrey also said having a citywide service and making everyone pay for it, regardless if they use it, isn’t fair.
Councilman Bob Young also is in favor of the survey and said he would rather mulch his leaves. He said having a collection would only give residents a couple day window to get their leaves to the curb.
Neugebauer said he mulches his leaves in place and where there are larger amounts, he puts them in his flower beds.
The survey, which can be found at cityofgreen.org, will be open through Nov. 5. Any change would not happen until next year.