In an effort to improve its landscaping results, the Peachtree City Council approved a proposal Thursday that will move some of the work back in-house while hiring three contractors to supplement the new city personnel.
The plan involves the city hiring four full-time and two seasonal/temporary employees to handle landscaping along primary and secondary roads, along with city facilities and parks.
At the same time, the city would use three different companies to handle specific tasks being highway landscaping maintenance, right-of-way tree trimming on primary and secondary roads and landscaping for subdivision and city landscape islands.
The private companies would be paid a total of $278,000 and it will cost the city $170,000 for the new in-house crew and necessary equipment for the rest of this fiscal year. In 2015, the cost of the in-house crew will rise to $223,000, according to calculations by Community Services Director Jon Rorie.
The city’s landscaping results have suffered since it let go of its in-house landscaping staff and moved to contractors starting in 2009 as part of a budget-saving plan. The city laid off 23 landscaping and mowing employees in a bid to save upwards of $800,000.
Rorie categorized the results of the outsourced efforts as “marginal at best, with common complaints regarding how the city does not look as good as it used to.”
The city has 12 municipal facilities needing landscaping services along with 12 city parks that will be served by the new in-house staff, Rorie indicated. Those crews will also handle landscaping on the 37 primary roads including Peachtree Parkway, MacDuff Parkway, Kedron Drive and others.
The city also has to look after some 500 landscaped islands including subdivision entrances and areas such as the entryway to cart path tunnels, Rorie noted.
While the funding this year will come from the city’s healthy cash reserve account, the intent is not for the cost to lead to a tax increase in the future, according to Councilman Eric Imker. He suggested the city could shrink the capital outlay planned in a second round of facilities authority bonds and divert that money already plugged into the budget to be used for the enhanced landscaping.
“I think we’re going to see a marked improvement in city grounds and roads all around,” approaching where the city was when it outsourced the job in 2009, Imker said.
The motion to make the changes was unanimous.