Brick Dalsis plays with a toy boat with his father Greg after the two finished clearing twigs from a ditch Wednesday in front of their home on East Maple Street. The city of Steamboat Springs will no longer provide scoria and spring debris removal for residents and businesses who employ private landscape contractors.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Brick Dalsis plays with a toy boat with his father Greg after the two finished clearing twigs from a ditch Wednesday in front of their home on East Maple Street. The city of Steamboat Springs will no longer provide scoria and spring debris removal for residents and businesses who employ private landscape contractors.

City's debris policy shifts

Private contractors now responsible for disposal

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Steamboat Springs residents and businesses will see costlier bills from their landscape contractors this spring because of a city policy shift.

The city will no longer dispose of scoria and spring debris if a private contractor is employed to provide spring clean-up services. Street/Fleet Superintendent Doug Marsh said the city still will provide the service for homeowners who do not use a commercial service and rake scoria and small branches from their yards onto street shoulders themselves for pick-up in April. Scoria is the volcanic rock laid on streets in the winter to provide friction on icy roads.

Marsh said the decision was made last year to reduce the city's landfill fees, before the economic downturn forced the city to make additional budget cuts. Marsh said for-profit businesses should not benefit from the city's free service. He said, by way of comparison, that the city would not dispose of a tree someone paid a contractor to cut down.

Landscape professionals said Wednesday that they would pass the additional cost of removing and disposing scoria and debris on to their customers.

"We've got to allocate the cost to the customer," said Brad Miller, of Miller's Landscape Design & Lawn Care. "It's time-consuming for sure. : It's just more work for me. It doesn't bother me, but it will bother a lot of my customers."

T.J. Thrasher, general manager of Windemere Landscape & Garden Center, said he understands the city's decision and is surprised that it provided the free service for as long as it did. Thrasher said that the additional cost of removal and disposal would be minimal for most customers.

"It's not going to be a substantial portion of the spring clean-up bill," Thrasher said.

Although Windemere is passing on the additional cost, Thrasher said he does worry that the city's decision will give customers a reason to do the work themselves, a move Thrasher said many already may be considering given the economic climate.

Miller said that there could be an argument that since the city lays the scoria, it should be responsible for picking it up.

"There's an argument both ways," Miller said. "As a homeowner I would be upset, but as a businessman, if that's their policy, that's their policy."

Marsh noted that the city owns the right-of-way for 10 to 15 feet on both sides of city streets, but it does not mow people's lawns or clear their driveways and sidewalks of snow.

"If the city was to rake everybody's lawn, I guess we'd have about 5,000 employees," Marsh said.

Miller said the extra work would add about a week to his spring clean-up schedule that also includes mulching and irrigation, and it could present difficulties when it comes time to do later-season work.

"You have to get it all done before the weekly maintenance of just growth," Miller said.

Comments

Tubes 5 years, 4 months ago

The city clearly said that they would pick up debris and scoria if the homeowner raked it into the street...........did you miss that?

But if you're contracting to have it cleaned up, then contract to finish the job and have it hauled off. If you're contracting to have a tree cut down, then have the contractor finish the job and haul it off. You can't expect the city to come in and haul off a tree for free that you had cut down.

This probably stems from not only budget cuts, but people taking advantage of this service...because obviously in past there have been people cutting down trees expecting the city to come and haul it off. Clearly not what the service was intended to do.

That all seems fair enough to me.

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JustSomeJoe 5 years, 4 months ago

Is the city going to hire someone to track who rakes the scoria themselves and who hires a contractor? What if I pay my kid $5 per hour to do it?

Sickofitall - a valid tax write off for city residents? Are they going to write that off their city tax return?

The whole thing seems silly. Perhaps they will have a city hotline to turn in your neighbor if someone other than the homeowner rakes the scoria to street?

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jk 5 years, 4 months ago

This is all too funny, we should all be happy the city picked it up as long as they did. Welcome to the real world people pick up the crap that is in your yard.

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sickofitall 5 years, 4 months ago

I guess...No I didnt miss it. But , once again we are going to put a burden on the private sector, and when I say this I really do mean ASCORIA not limbs, so if a private contractor rakes it for you, then you NEED to pay to have it hauled. What's the difference whether a homeowner rakes it or an hourly guy?? There's city owned ascoria in the street as a result of either method. What it comes down to is the folks who can afford to pay for some poor bastard to rake the stuff (and I have been that poor bastard), have to pay double, once in property taxes and once for the private contractor. This should be a valid tax write off as well. The city is out to lunch on thier budget anyway, now we are seeing the results. BTW, I stuff my limbs in my private garbage can.

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sickofitall 5 years, 4 months ago

Flip side is, the city dumps it, they oughta pick it up!

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