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CONTACT: John Stufflebean, Director, Department of Environmental Management, (816) 513- 3484

City increases funding for mowing

The City is stepping up efforts to get rid of tall grass and weeds on public property, vacant lots and some nuisance private property. City Manager Wayne Cauthen announced today that $200,000 is being reallocated within the City budget to increase the frequency of weed cutting and grass mowing. City staff will identify budgetary savings over the course of the year to fund the additional expense.

To keep costs down, the City will use inmate labor from the Municipal Correctional Institution and community service workers to do some of the mowing and related work such as litter control. Two 10-person crews of inmates and community service workers will be assigned to the task. That is in addition to the two crews of community service workers who already perform these duties. Inmates from MCI have not performed these tasks previously. Some of the work also will be done by contractors and City crews. Costs will be tracked to look at the efficiency of using inmate labor and community service workers compared to using contractors. The results will be used in redesigning the mowing and cutting programs for next year.

The Citywide weed cutting and mowing budget decreased 16 percent in fiscal year 2004 because of declining revenue. The additional $200,000 will supplement the $435,000 base budget for mowing and $160,000 in funding provided by the Jackson County Land Trust.

Just over half of the additional funds will be used to increase the frequency of weed cutting and grass mowing on public property. The increased effort will focus on public rights of way in high profile areas and areas where impaired visibility causes traffic problems. For example, there will be additional mowing along Southwest Trafficway and on Barry Road. These funds also will be used to mow City-owned property.

The remaining portion will be used to bolster cutting and mowing on vacant lots throughout the City. About half of this cutting occurs on property owned by the Jackson County Land Trust. The other half of this cutting will occur on vacant private property lots that are in violation of the City weed ordinance. The ordinance requires that weeds not exceed 10 inches in height on property within 150 feet of an occupied residence. The City pursues cost recovery against property owners who fail to comply with the ordinance resulting in mowing by the City.

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