PEKIN — The Pekin City Council on Monday will consider the purchase of lawn equipment — a signal that the city could bring yard work back in house after four years with an outside firm.
The agenda asks the Council to approve up to $40,000 for new equipment dependent on a labor agreement with the Teamsters Local 627. The equipment includes five weed eaters, $180 each; five blower/vacs, $230 each; two commercial riding mowers, $10,800 each; three push mowers, $960 each; two hauling trailers, $1,500 each; and miscellaneous supplies at $1,000. The early estimate total is $30,530.
The issue of bringing the service in house was brought up as recently as June 2016 during Council discussion on ways to save revenue, according to Pekin Daily Times archives.
The city hired Golf Green in May 2013 to take over the service. The Golf Green bid was $75,348 and has increased over the years. The city can terminate the contract with Golf Green this year with notice.
Pekin City Manager Tony Carson said the request for the equipment, the agreement with the union and bringing the service back in house all go hand in hand.
“If in fact (bringing the service in house) is a decision they would like, then we need the equipment to do it,” said Carson.
Carson said the appearance of the community is a concern of the public.
“When I’ve gone out into the community, that’s probably been the number one request that I’ve had,” said Carson. “Certainly people are concerned about the roads and I think we’ve shown that we are addressing that by spending almost $2 million on roads this year.
“Business people, community leaders and residents — the number one theme that was consistent when I went out and really talking to people was they really liked when we had our own yard crew and if there’s anyway we could look to bring them back. So, this is going to allow Council to provide me guidance, if in fact they see a benefit to this.”
Carson said he would provide detail at Monday’s meeting on the duties of a yard crew, the number of crew members, costs and so forth.
In 2013, former City Manager Joe Wuellner said outsourcing the work would save the city $100,000 a year. At that time, Wuellner said the city was paying $150,000 to $180,000, depending on the heat and the rain, to mow 62.8 acres.
Wuellner said at the time that the crews were having trouble keeping up because of heavy rains — 10 inches in one month. He said the yard crew members were bus drivers as well and their first priority was driving. At that time, bus drivers earned $10.64 per hour for yard work.
City records indicate that for Fiscal Year 2017 for the months from May 2016 to November 2016 the city paid $143,847 to Golf Green for yard work services. That figure does not include mowing for April of this year. The company was paid additional money for work not typically done by an in-house crew such as spraying pesticides and herbicides.
Follow Sharon Woods Harris at Twitter.com/sharrispekin