Metro Public Works will be responsible for more work with 40 fewer employees as part of the budget cuts proposed by Mayor Karl Dean.
More tangibly, the department will have to reduce its Metro-wide brush pickup program from five times per year to just three.
Public Works was forced to not renew its $1.9 million contract with SRS, Inc., which is currently responsible for 75 percent of Nashville’s brush removal.
“When I ran for office, my constituents said they didn’t think five pickups were enough,” District 23 Councilwoman Emily Evans said. “They wanted more like six or seven. And now that we’re cutting to three, that sentiment is only going to be exacerbated.”
Public Works Executive Director Billy Lynch said he believed his department was capable of handling more work, despite 40 layoffs.
“What most people don’t realize is we’ve been doing this for four years,” Lynch said. “I don’t think there’s any ifs, ands or buts about it, we can pick up the slack. It’s not a novelty or something new to Public Works.”
But Lynch and Council members admit SRS did a good job picking up the brush along Nashville’s 12 routes.
“The question is, can the department handle the extra work,” District 7 Councilman Erik Cole said. “They say they can.”
When Lynch took office four years ago, Public Works removed brush on a by-appointment basis. Lynch said that system simply didn’t work.
So SRS was brought in to help improve the situation. Right now the pickups happen five times a year with a total of 18 trucks doing the work.
The new system will see 12 Metro-run trucks with just one man doing the same work just three times per year.
Lynch encouraged Nashvillians who know they will use the brush pickup program to sign up for the email reminder system so they know exactly when their neighborhood cleanup will happen.
Additionally, Lynch is working with the Davidson County sheriff’s office to pick up some of the slack with litter pickup and other maintenance.
“We have no question we can pick up the brush and the reason being is we’ve been doing it for the last four years,” Lynch said. “We’re the ones that created the routes and put the system together. Now we’re just going to have to get to work.”