Cleburne Times-Review, Cleburne, TX

Local News

January 24, 2013

Water bills may soon carry tree fee

Council approves emergency Lake Pat dam repairs


Cleburne resident’s water bills may soon increase by about $1 per month to fund a city vegetative management fee. Assistant City Manager David Esquivel discussed the proposal during the workshop session of Tuesday’s Cleburne City Council meeting.

The fee would cover citywide tree trimming, street sweeping and right-of-way and median mowing and maintenance.

“Our ongoing tree issue will never go away and there’s not an easy way to fix it,” City Manager Rick Holden said.

Errant tree limbs in roadways have long wreaked havoc with fire trucks, school buses and other large vehicles. Property owners remain responsible for trimming low-hanging limbs encroaching into public right of ways. Enforcement is costly and time consuming considering the city’s limited staff, not to mention the potential hazards of homeowners setting ladders in the middle of the road to access problem limbs.

Officials, about a year ago, hired a tree trimming service, overseen by an arborist, to trim throughout the city. The problem, Holden and Esquivel recently said, is that trees grow back and will continue to do so.

The proposal calls for hiring a company to trim problem trees throughout the year, as needed, at an estimated cost of $32,000 annually. Other projects include street sweeping about six times a year at an estimated cost of $70,000 and maintaining medians and right-of-way areas at an estimated cost of $21,000. Esquivel, working in a contingency fee, estimated the total yearly cost of the projects at $135,300.

Esquivel proposed two options to fund the project. Option one, which council members seemed to favor, calls for $1 per month fee on all active city utility accounts, residential and business. Option two calls for a 50 cent per month fee on all accounts, with an additional 5 cent per linear foot charge to property owners with undeveloped frontage road property. Council members and city officials said the second option would likely prove difficult to institute and keep track of.

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