Sunday, October 10, 2010

Editorial: Canceled leaf pickup frustrates residents

The announcement by Mayor Don Culliver last week that the city would not pick up leaves this year brought out the frustration residents have for city leaders.

The city stands to save somewhere between $100,000 and $250,000 or more by avoiding the leaf collection this year.

The timing of the announcement — just as the first leaves began to fall — was far too late in the year to decide that an expected city service would no longer be available.

“Stick it to the taxpayer, they must see that we have to cut back,” the city fathers seem to be saying.

The city is scraping the bottom of its barrel to come up with some way to save costs as it enters the first year of its fiscal emergency.

Is this the best way to do it?

Let’s put this into perspective.

When the city had the chance to renegotiate union contracts for city workers last week, it didn’t.

When the city had the chance to save on its health insurance costs in August, it didn’t.

We wonder if Mayor Culliver and City Council really understand what kind of financial situation we are in.

When the city collects tax dollars, we expect something in return. Police and fire protection are at the top of the list. Beyond that we expect any number of things we’ve been promised — potholes filled, working sewers, streets cleared of snow.

An announcement late in the year that there will be no leaf pickup might appear to be a wise move to save some money, but long-term it could end up costing the city a lot more — especially if major work is required to fix sewers clogged with leaves.

For sure it has cost the city any credibility it had with its already frustrated residents.