Drowning in tree brush, city changes chipping rules

Board OKs more efficient system as debris from ashes continues to pile up at curbs
Ozaukee Press staff

At a time when Port Washington residents are doing spring trimming and cutting down trees at an almost unprecedented rate, thanks in large part to the emerald ash borer that is decimating the ash trees, the city’s Board of Public Works on Tuesday agreed to end the city’s current brush collection fee.

In its place, the board recommended the city charge a flat $60 fee for each truckload of brush collected at a house.

Residents are currently charged when the city takes more than 15 minutes to chip and collect brush. The fee is $19.16 for the first 15 minutes and $1.83 per minute after that — a rate that is based on labor and equipment fees.

About 25 people were charged the fee last year, Administrative Assistant Judy Klumb said. The typical charge was about $50, she said, with a couple of bills topping $100.

It’s not an easy fee to charge, Street Commissioner J.D. Hoile said, noting that residents sometimes dispute the amount of time workers took to chip brush.

“We’ve gotten calls from people saying, ‘We watched them and it was 33 minutes,’” he said, while the department’s summer workers report the job took 45 minutes.

Most piles of brush, especially when it’s been piled properly, can be chipped in a relatively short amount of time, Hoile said. When the brush isn’t piled effectively, workers have to untangle the branches to chip them, adding time to their schedule.

“It’s not something that happens very often, but when it does, it really slows things down,” he said.

The department is looking at ways to make its brush collection operation more efficient, Hoile said, primarily by using a skid loader with a grapple bucket to pick up large amounts of brush and load it onto the dump truck and trailer.

The brush would be hauled back to the street department yard, where it would be stored and later chipped with a tub grinder.

“This will reduce the time spent on larger piles,” Hoile said, making it easier for crews to get through their routes on a weekly basis during the busy spring and summer months.

“It would be nice to go up with the grapple bucket and work smarter, not harder,” he added.

He estimated it will take an average of 20 minutes to do this work, noting the charges reflect $50 for labor and equipment and a $10 administrative fee.



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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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