JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- City Councilman Clay Yarborough wants a $1.5 million cut to the city's mowing budget restored, according to our Florida Times-Union news partner.
The Times-Union reports Yarborough will make a last-ditch effort to restore the money to the city's budget at Tuesday's City council Meeting, where the 2012-12 budget is scheduled to be up for a vote.
During this budget year, the city cut right of ways and medians along city streets eight times a year. In the next budget year the city will cut the grass just four times a year, unless funding is restored.
Shawn Nicholson of Jetway Parking operates Park EZ Fly along Airport Road and was disappointed to hear the news when First Coast News interviewed him earlier this month.
"That's unfortunate, because people coming into our city of course want to see a nice area, especially coming into the airport here.
After that interview, First Coast News learned that Airport Road up to I-95 is maintained by the airport authority, so it is not part of the city mowing contract, which may explain why it looks so well maintained. That won't be the case for other areas of the city, which won't look as maintained.
"First thing you see is how clean the buildings are and what roadways look like," said Darnell Evans earlier this month. "When they come in, if we got trash everywhere, they are going to think we are a trashy city. "
Evans owns J&D Maintenance, which picks up trash while cutting half the grass in the city. He says cutting it just four times a year will result in situations like this, where a city fire hydrant is barely visible in a private lot across from his business.
"It will look like this or worse. It definitely will look like this or worse," Evans said, pointing to the area where grass and weeds that are two feet or higher surrounded the hydrant.
City officials said they are bidding out new contracts for cutting grass at the end of they year and hope to pay less, saving money to pay for more cuttings. But Evans doesn't see the city saving much money at all because the job will be as labor intensive as ever cutting the grass less often. He says homeowners would understand that logic.
"If you take your home, which most people mow, say you mow it 30 times a year and it takes 30 minutes to mow. If you cut back to 15 times, it will be higher and take you an hour."
Evans said if contractors low ball the bids, the public won't get the services required.
David DeCamp of Mayor Alvin Brown's office said the mayor would be interested in boosting the mowing budget if the city finance situation improves.
The Florida Times-Union, First Coast News