The city council last week extended the contract for West Coast Arborists to continue pruning street trees but admits the allotted funds will not allow the city to keep pace with maintenance needs.
The council approved a contract for up to $100,000 for the care of trees and budgeted $30,000 for tree inventory in the 2013-14 fiscal year. That amount is a far cry from what is needed. In fact, City Engineer Toby Wells said about half of the money budgeted has already been committed to trees that needed care last budget cycle.
City Deputy Director of Public Works Jeremy Damas said the $100,000 allotment only takes care of 200 trees but told the council earlier this year that 500 are needing care.
All tree work is initiated by city staff or on an emergency basis, such as when a tree falls into a road or onto a sidewalk, house or car. The city is working toward a more routine method of caring for trees, such as concentrating on blocks or neighborhoods.
"We are not there yet in terms of budget allocation," said City Engineer Toby Wells. "Right now we have a very long list based on last year's money running out before the list was tackled."
Property owners are responsible for any part of the tree that needs pruning up to 12 feet in height, said Wells. Some residents simply are not able to do the work, he said.
In other action, the council approved a contract to D.G. Granade, Inc., of Shingle Springs, to expand the city's maintenance shop building. The existing maintenance shop on Harold Street will add about 3,263 square feet of space and 620 square feet to the office and will be sized to handle the newer fire equipment and other larger vehicles. The project was originally bid in 2002 but postponed because of budget constraints.
Councilman Mike Kline flagged the contract amount because at $679,650, it was significantly higher than the engineer's estimate of $450,000. Wells said the engineer who did the estimate made some errors in his calculations. Wells also noted that contractor activity is "trending upward" and therefore bids are costing 20 to 30 percent than months ago, "especially on buildings."
"It's the state of where the economy is and where these types of buildings are increasing," said Wells.
Mayor Chris Vierra said he has seen an incredible pick-up of work at the engineering firm where he works in the past 90 to 120 days.
"It's beginning to feel like 2004-05, with the amount of activity that is occurring," said Vierra.