City of Sandusky
Growers lose green
Mar 1, 2014 at 10:13 AM
•WHAT IT FUNDS: Greenhouse, groundskeeping, mowing, forestry and planting services. All plants in Sandusky parks come from the city greenhouse.
•WHY IT’S IMPORTANT: Volunteers said horticulture services can draw tourists into Sandusky, provide education for children and boost community morale.
•FUNDING WOES: Funding decreased 6 percent, from about $841,500 in 2013 to $787,000 in 2014. No layoffs resulted.
Before offsetting a $1.1 million shortfall Monday, Sandusky’s budget crunch forced commissioners to search for any and all green they could conserve.
Upon first glance, some commissioners considered cutting horticultural services, which includes greenhouse operations.
In fact, when campaigning for office this past fall, city commissioner Dick Brady and ex officio mayor Dennis Murray Jr. both alluded to cutting how much horticultural services receives.
Many residents revolted against this proposal, forcing the pair to delve deeper into the department’s budget.
Their findings? Horticultural funding already took some heavy hits in recent times, evident by full-time staffing levels halved from six workers a few years ago to three today.
In addition to mowing, planting and hoisting holiday decorations up, horticultural employees also assist street employees by plowing snow and filling pot holes.
“When you peel the layers back of horticulture, you find they do a variety of things,” Brady said. “The horticultural employees cross department lines, helping people in many different places”
In the end, horticultural services faced a 6 percent loss in funding from the city, totaling about $67,000, today versus a year ago.
Follow the money
The Register takes an in-depth look at Sandusky’s $16.3 million operating budget this week and tells readers where the money’s spent:
•WEDNESDAY: Horticultural and greenhouse operations
•THURSDAY: Sandusky Transit and public transportation
•FRIDAY: Recreational assets
•SATURDAY: Paving, plowing and patching up streets
•SUNDAY: Dealing with a downsized fire department
•MONDAY: Cemetery services
But it shouldn’t impact operations one bit. A reduction results from city commissioners progressing on a deal to let a private hauler operate the city’s two public recycling sites. This expense was previously grouped under horticultural services.
Many residents are happy the city preserved horticultural services in the 2014 budget.
“It’s very important for sustaining the wonderful quality of life for the citizens and visitors of this community,” Sandusky Greenhouse volunteer Nanette Guss said.
Looking forward, horticultural personnel will continue to rely on volunteers but want commissioners to provide additional resources in future years.
“As not only a 21-year city employee but as a 40-plusyear resident of Sandusky, I believe we need to increase revenue to allow us to accomplish more to make Sandusky a better place to live and visit,” Sandusky Greenhouse manager Tom Speir said. “If we want growth, we have to provide state-of-the-art parks that will make the city an attractive place to invest”