While we call it the Street Department, the maintenance of our streets is a big part of what they do, but a more apt name would be Service Department. What they provide is maintenance of many of the things that gives Chagrin its character. This Village character is what has lead many of us to select Chagrin as the place to live and raise our families.
The total scope of their responsibilities is: 35 lane miles of roads to maintain and snow plow, three main parking lots and ten traffic signals to maintain, nearly 40 acres of cemeteries and parks to cut and maintain, downtown beautification, fall leaf and storm damage pick up, tree lawn tree planting and maintenance and compliance with our state storm water management requirements.
To provide some sense of the scale of this work load, leaf pick up took 224 truckloads and 370 tons of leaves removed from your yards, there are 460 storm water catch basins to clean and maintain, annual rock salt application varies between 1,500 and 2,000 tons per year, and in the summer, daily watering and care to 32 landscape locations and 105 hanging baskets. In addition they provide repair and maintenance to all village owned buildings.
They meet these responsibilities with a full time staff of seven. While holding a core group of seven we do employ up to five seasonal workers as the work load demands. The seven full time employees represent a reduction from the previous level of nine.
The service department’s work is highly seasonal, e.g. snow plowing and grass cutting, so the service department must do many ancillary projects in the seasonal down time. They currently service all the small motors (e.g. lawn mowers) internally and do most vehicle repair and maintenance internally with the exception of certain specialized repairs. We estimate that this saves the village approximately 50-60% when compared to outside service. They have taken over small construction projects such as storm sewer rebuilding and cleaning. We estimate this has saved us around $50,000 in comparison to what we were paying using outside contractors.
The Village does frequent cost comparisons and operational analysis on a variety of services to determine the most effective and cost efficient method to provide service. Currently, the Village is evaluating the use of additional summer student or retiree labor to use in lieu of contract labor to cut the grass in the cemetery. This presents many challenges as the cutting season is 26 weeks long and availability year to year is questionable – but we are looking at it. Projects such as curb repair and storm sewer repair are frequently cost compared between hiring a contractor and doing it with Street Dept. staff. Traffic signal and street light maintenance is another area where cost analysis shows performing some types of jobs in-house saves the Village money. Several years ago, the Street Department started performing more road maintenance work in-house due to the loss of funds for the annual repaving program as well, helping to extend the life of our streets.
Whenever and wherever possible the department shares equipment and services with surrounding communities. We share equipment with Bainbridge saving up to $5,500 over rental costs. We have jointly purchased equipment with Bentleyville saving both communities nearly $9000 each. We use Orange’s aerial truck to service the traffic signals and downtown streetlights saving $5,000 in rental costs. We have evaluated a joint salt storage structure and found the logistics of operations as well as the increased size would not yield any savings and in fact could increase our costs. We trade off plowing border streets with surrounding communities, we do share everything that we can with surrounding communities and use joint buying contracts where ever possible. Joint purchase agreements have saved 5 to 10% of our costs in purchasing salt.
I have heard questions about the amount of time downtown beautification takes; I would like to provide some facts. First of all the downtown business district pays just under 60% of the total income taxes, and just under 50% of the total taxes used to operate the village. The Dogwood Valley Garden Club has provided the total $6800.00 cost of hanging flower baskets, no tax dollar were used. The Volunteer Beautification Committee has provided 23 volunteers who contributed 800 to 850 total hours annually toward downtown flower bed maintenance. The Jaycees contribute over 1700 hours of labor to provide the holiday décor and over 5000 total hours for Blossom and the bunting and flag displays on Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Veterans Day. All of the profits from Blossom are contributed to various Chagrin area charities including the operation of the police department’s safety town previously discussed. The village provides approximately 1250 hours annually for trash pickup, sidewalk cleaning, landscaping, watering the flower baskets that are not on an automatic irrigation system, maintenance on the irrigation system, and snow removal in the downtown area. Of the 8775 + total hours spent on Downtown beautification, your service department contributes 14% of the total hours, the remaining 86% are provided by volunteer labor. It truly takes a village to maintain The Village.
What does this all cost? The 2016 budget for the street department is approximately $1,500,000. This works out to $341.00 per resident per year or $6.60 per week. I think this is a pretty reasonable cost for maintaining the Village character that brought us to Chagrin in the first place.
Mayor Bill Tomko