Trees die, who pays?

Register
Mar 18, 2014

Property owners are frustrated.

City officials are too.

Who must pay the the expense to remove dead or dying trees from the city-owned boulevards in front of homes and businesses is a moving target. For years, the city maintained its trees and regularly trimmed overgrown trees and removed the ones that were dead or dying. That means every resident in the city who pays income taxes shared the burden.

But that was before the state and federal government began cutting millions from Sandusky's annual budget, and the budgets of municipal governments across Ohio. It also was before the city's staff was cut by about one-third in the last decade since state and federal officials forced that to happen through their austerity efforts at the expense of local residents.

Today, demand has outstripped the city's ability to keep pace, both in manpower and the the cost to hire outside contractors. An estimated 300-plus dead or damaged trees already are on a waiting list for badly needed attention. This harsh winter is likely to make the problem worse, and failing to find a solution puts life and limb at risk.

If the cost to hire a contractor to remove dead city trees is just $1,000 per tree -- a low estimate -- the city needs to find more than $300,000 from somewhere to meet its obligation. Transferring the expense onto property owners without transferring the land to them as well doesn't seem to be something that can be accomplished lawfully, or fairly, in any event.

A city commission committee, however, recently proposed just that.

While we appreciate members of the committee -- volunteers -- seeking a solution to this thorny dilemma, it's difficult to see how the city can make that plan work. Residents who are impacted -- the ones whose homes are fronted by dead city trees -- likely won't accept that solution, and we don't see why they should. 

And failing to address the problem is not a good option, either. One harsh storm resulting in one fallen tree could result in death or serious injury, and the cost defending a lawsuit could make the that $300,000 price tag seem cheap.

The city's only real option, at this point, seems to be to try again.

Comments

Bogtrotter

Yet another reason why the city needs to raise the admissions tax.

Babo

Note that the roads that are being paved (in another story)transport tourists to and from CP and out of the City as quickly as possible, but there is no money to beautify the City to convince tourists to linger and visit.

IT'S ME

Yet the city continues to plant trees, STOP planting new trees till you can afford to take care of the ones you already have! It's kind of like the people on welfare that keep popping out babies, somebody else will pay for it.

Bogtrotter

I don't know if they're still doing this, but 5 or 6 years ago, the city was planting large shade trees on small city lots. There are small, ornamental trees that flower, don't create mountains of leaves every fall, don't buckle sidewalks, and can be removed by a homeowner with a handsaw and maybe a rope.

deertracker

If it is yours when it is healthy, it is yours when it is unhealthy.

SamAdams

...and it's been made abundantly clear -- repeatedly -- that the City owns the boulevards and the trees that are on them. Don't think so? Try to take one out (if you can afford it)! Try to plant something else (if you're so inclined)!

I have another question in connection with this issue, though: You can chat all day about what's happened to budgets, staffing, etc. in the last couple of years. How, pray tell, does that explain complaints that have been on record for even LONGER? That's right. LONGER than a few years. Is the City just WAITING for a car, a house, or a human being to be crushed before it does anything?

Bogtrotter

A homeowners needs a permit to prune a tree on the boulevard. And there's a city committee that decides which trees are going to be planted on the boulevards. Plus, the trees are planted on city property. So, I don't know how the tree suddenly becomes the homeowner's problem when it dies.

starryeyes83

Man, if you guys get a high wind storm up there, like we had, you're gonna have 500 trees come down for free, in less than an hour.

Truth or Dare

So glad our front yard isn't lined with boulevard trees. RAISE THE ADMISSION TAX ALREADY!!!

OMGreally

cut Ard's income a little bit..might be able to get a few trees down from that savings alone...