Growers lose green

City’s horticulture services take 6 percent hit
Andy Ouriel
Feb 26, 2014
Sandusky horticulture
•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”

Comments

topcop1991

One of the things that we always enjoyed about downtown Sandusky was the beautiful parks along Washington Row.

Bogtrotter

The

YoMamma

Quit BUYING mulch when you make wood chips for FREE! Use a little common sense Tom!

Licorice Schtick

Wood chips are lousy for a lot of mulching applications and completely wrong for some.

da wind

wait? what? good luck putting out fires with flowers. glad I dont live in santown

Bogtrotter

Go

Licorice Schtick

Right. Just give all the money to police and fire. We don't need anything else. Stop maintaining parks and ball fields and roads and city buildings - just let the roofs leak. Stop applying for and administering federal grants - let 'em keep the money. Let billboards with flashing lights be built next to your house. Let slum landlords do anything they want and let people build cardboard shacks - we'll have plenty of cops to deal with characters who move in.

Wait. What?

reader

The city commission is short changing the residents by not acting to place an increase in the admissions tax on the ballot ASAP.

Closing a fire station and laying off first responders in the face of ever increasing call volumes can only be scare tactics to try to pass an income tax increase.

Our streets are falling apart.

Our trees need trimming and we need to plant more to replace those lost to the emerald ash borer.

Our parks need maintenance and improvements.

Our safety forces face ever increasing calls for service.

We deserve a safe, clean, attractive city.

Place an admission tax increase on the ballot. Borrow money from the fire department equipment fund to staff all 3 fire stations for this year and repay the equipment fund next year with the increased revenue from the admission tax increase.

tiredofthebull

just curious who told the register that horticultural services patched potholes? That has NEVER EVER happened!

KURTje

Told you. We are broke.

donutsh0pguy

Raise admissions tax to shore up your fire department staffing, then we start making the landlords accountable, then and only then we can worry about the parks.

Dr. Information

Sandusky's shortfalls will eventually lead to an admission tax increase and when they find out Cedar Point still cannot support an over inflated Sandusky budget, what will Sandusky cry out then?

Babo

Sandusky would not have shortfalls if the Admissions Tax were at 8% as it should have been for over a decade as it is in every other world class amusement city.

Also for the umpteenth time: CEDAR POINT DOES NOT PAY THE ADMISSIONS TAX, THE CUSTOMERS PAY THE TAX JUST LIKE YOU DO WITH SALES TAX ON MOST PURCHASES. An increase in the Admissions Tax will have little to no effect on the volume of people who visit Cedar Point.

Finally if Sandusky raises the Admissions Tax to the maximum of 8% allowed by law, the City could DECREASE the Income Tax to 0.5% and become more attractive to new residents and businesses and still have money for infrastructure improvements and necessary services.

slightthroat212

the people in this town are way too dependant on Cedar Point and its visitors to an amusement park for their money. Where are your factories and other places of employment for taxes? What if there is a recession so bad that not many people can't afford to go to an amusement park? Then what will you do and the money doesn't come rolling in? It is possible with the way this economy is. You best not put all your eggs in one basket it seems. Start thinking of other ways to maintain this way of life you are so fond of living. You cannot afford to depend on one thing obviously it isn't working.