Friday, April 25, 2008

Timmins to spend extra $27,000 on grass cutting

Timmins city council appears ready to hire more students to keep the grass cut in city parks and cemeteries. It could cost the taxpayers an additional $27,000 for four more students. Council is expected to make a formal decision on the issue Monday night. The extra cost was not budgeted for.
The issue was raised at last Monday’s city council committee meeting, in response to concerns raised last year about poor grass cutting in city parks and cemeteries.
Timmins leisure services manager Mark Jensen told council that in order to meet the demand to keep city properties neat and clean, his department will need more than the usual compliment of 20 summer students.
Jensen told council there are four options – one is to keep the status quo and stay at 20 summer students, option-two is to hire four more students at the estimated cost of $27,000, option-three is to contract out the landscaping services at an estimated cost of $38,000, option-four is to contract out the landscaping and having the cemetery workers assist the parks workers.
Jensen told council that the extra demand is because the grass in the parks and cemeteries has to be cut twice a week from mid-May to mid-July. While several councillors -- Steve Adams, Pat Bamford, John Curley, Mike Doody, Jack Slatter and Denis Saudino have voiced support to hire more students, two councillors did not.
Councillor Bill Gvozdanovic suggested there were better ways to manage the student crews to get the job done with spending extra money.
He suggested that park maintenance crews could be based out of city arenas, instead of having them all based out of the public works yard on Pine Street South. He suggested valuable time was lost each day having workers travel from public works to the various work sites.
Councillor Gary Scripnick suggested better management would mean more work could be done.
“I am not in favour of additional students,” said Scripnick. “You know too often I’ve gone to a park, I see some students have just run out of work.”
Scripnick says he doesn’t blame the students because they’re not being told what to do. “I don’t think they’re as productive as they can be…. They know they can be more productive than they are,” he told council.
Scripnick said while he is not in favour of hiring more students, he does believe the work of the students should be more closely monitored so that they can be shown how to work more efficiently.

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