Limb pick-up effort chips away at city budget
It may be nearly 70 degrees and the middle of April, but the City of Greencastle is still feeling the effects of the ice storm that paralyzed the area the first week of February.
That storm literally tore several Greencastle neighborhoods limb from limb, necessitating an emergency round of limb pick-up by the city's Department of Public Works.
On Tuesday night, Public Works Supt. Brad Phillips raised some eyebrows with his final report of the project to the City Council.
"The guys did a great job," Phillips said in praise of his crew. "Whether it rained or not, they were out there picking up limbs."
Several individual neighborhoods took three days or more to clean up.
"They had hoped to finish the job in 10 days," Mayor Sue Murray noted, adding that it took 18 workdays and over 24 calendar days to complete the effort.
"People have been extremely appreciative," she assured Phillips.
In all, the department hauled off 284 loads of limbs from city neighborhoods, while chipping up another 52.5 loads. And as Councilman Adam Cohen pointed out, that total does not include 23 loads hauled away from the cemetery or any limbs disposed of from park property.
In all, the limb pick-up effort resulted in city vehicles being driven 2,641.3 miles with 555.3 gallons of gasoline and another 335.5 gallons of diesel fuel expended. On top of that, it took the street sweeper 57 loads to clean up after chipping operations were complete.
While those numbers are impressive, the figure that stood out to city officials was the total cost of the clean-up effort -- just four cents shy of the $20,000 mark, or $19,999.96.
That amounts to $20,000 the city had not budgeted for 2011, so it will have to make the funds up by scrimping elsewhere, especially if disaster relief funds are not forthcoming from the federal government.
The state has included Putnam County in the disaster declaration area identified in the ice storm aftermath. The city could recover 75 percent of the $20,000 total if that happens, Mayor Murray said.
In the meantime, Councilor Phyllis Rokicki pointed out some residents have recently set out new piles of limbs and branches even though the collection effort is finished. Those piles will not be collected by the city, it was noted.
However, residents can take limbs to the Putnam County/Greencastle Yard Waste Site, which is now open just beyond the County Highway Department and firing range southwest of Greencastle. Hours of operation are 2 to 6 p.m. Monday, noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.
Nominal disposal fees apply for twigs, branches, leaves, grass clippings and other organic yard waste. Persons may call 653-6699 for more information.
As a follow-up to the discussion, City Clerk-Treasurer Teresa Glenn commented on attending the annual Clerk-Treasurers Institute at Muncie, where the topic of municipal services was raised.
"We are one of few cities, if not the only city there (at the conference), that still picks up leaves and limbs. Most cities are cutting back on those services," she said, adding, "I'm glad we're still able to do it."