Downtown Simpsonville is flanked by several established neighborhoods that are lined by mature trees. The large, stately oaks and their smaller cousins are one of the biggest visual draws to newcomers. The trees help make the town look like ‘home,’ a place to put down roots and escape the hustle of Greenville city.
What isn’t readily apparent is the work Residents put into maintaining their homes and landscaping. Limbs fall in either the region’s plentiful thunderstorms or rare ice events, and dead limbs must be trimmed by homeowners or proactive linemen from the power companies.
Then there are the leaves to battle.
The great majority of trees in Simpsonville are deciduous, and some yards are blanketed several times over in the fall. In previous years residents were able to rake or blow their leaves to the curb, and the city would come through with a vacuum truck to remove them.
That truck eventually aged, and its ongoing repair list grew tremendously. Last year it was determined that the truck would need to be replaced, and that to serve the growing population an additional truck would need to be added. That expense also included a doubling of the labor costs involved with operating two trucks.
While those costs alone could have been tackled, a fiscally neglected sewer cleanup project and other urgent department needs had to take priority. As a result, city council voted unanimously in spring of 2016 to discontinue leaf pickup, and to outsource waste pickup to a private company.
When autumn of 2016 arrived, many residents became vocal on social media about the added hardship of bagging leaves and bundling brush for waste removal. A handful left leaves as they fell in protest. Most found ways to mulch or dispose of their own leaves.
The future looks much cleaner, however.
Council is currently in the process of creating a budget for 2017-18, and a solution to the dilemma is in the works. From Mayor Curtis,
“We will be doing a bond to purchase new equipment to return this service to the citizens. This new equipment should have been purchased years ago. We, as a council had to make some tough, unpopular decisions to continue to give all citizens continued service. In the past money was taken from one department to fund another. This inequity and partiality became a major problem for our Public Works department, unfortunately. We are now on course to return a much desired and needed service to us all. Our new equipment will be delivered at the end of summer.”
Mayor Curtis also expressed her gratitude to residents for their patience and understanding while the city finalizes a resolution.
The 2017-18 budget will be finalized in May. There will be one more budget workshop held on May 4 at 3pm, Simpsonville City Hall.
Follow The Community Edge for updates on this topic as it progresses in Simpsonville.