GET ANSWERS: City Landscaping

7:34 PM, Apr 11, 2011   |    comments
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With the weather warming up, you may be noticing people spending more time outdoors on yardwork.

But when it comes to city parks and medians, more than one group gets their hands dirty with the weedwhacking, mowing, and mulching.

Mary Hunnicutt wrote to us asking, "Why does the city contract out the grass-cutting services to other companies instead of letting employees of parks and recreation do it, and how does it save the city money when they already have these employees on payroll?"

For some parks and recreation workers, every day is about getting your hands dirty.

Doc Dougherty, Macon Parks and Recreation director, says, "They're not just cutting grass as a contractor would."

Dougherty says using their own employees and bringing in landscapers from separate companies is the best tool for efficient work.

"We can't do one or the other. I won't add more employees, but I certainly won't say, 'Let's go to all contractors,'" says Dougherty.

The city pays about $300,000 a year for grass-cutting companies. He says one good thing is they come to work on their own wheels.

"If their lawnmower breaks down as a contractor, they have to replace the lawnmower. They need to buy the big milk trucks that drag their equipment around," Dougherty says.

None of that, he says, is on the parks and rec tab.

"If we looked to get rid of the contractor, we'd have to hire a whole lot more employees and buy a whole lot more machinery at a higher cost."

But he says working with just contractors wouldn't be efficient either.

"If you hire a contract out for a tree service, they're not going to cut grass. The grass cutters are not going to work on trees."

He says his jack-of-all-trades employees working alongside contractors is the most cost efficient way to still keep control.

Dougherty says when it comes to lawn care, parks and recreation employees take care of the parks in Macon, cemetaries, and median strips.

Separate contractors take care of downtown plazas, MLK median strips, and larger sections of some of the parks.

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