Public Works may trim recycling program, among others

Wednesday, March 31, 2010 at 1:28pm

Already operating thin after a wave of staff cuts in recent years, Metro Public Works could be forced to end several popular services if asked to reduce its budget by another 7.5 percent this time around.

Among potential cuts are the elimination of eight recycling drop-off centers; the closing of the Bordeaux Composting Center, where residents take brush and leaves for recycling; and a decrease in the number of streets that would be cleared by the department during snow or icy weather.

In all, a 7.5 percent cut would reduce the department’s budget by $3 million and force 38 employee layoffs. Department staff has already been reduced from 522 employees in 2004 to 363 employees today.

The grim news came from Billy Lynch, director of Public Works, as he sat down with Mayor Karl Dean and others from the mayor’s office Wednesday to discuss the effect of a 7.5 percent cut for the next fiscal year, which all department heads have been instructed to analyze.

“This hurts us,” Lynch said. “It really does.”

The cuts raised by Lynch, however, are far from set in stone as Dean prepares to hand the Metro Council a finalized budget for the 2010-2011 fiscal year by May 1.

“No decision has been made on what percentage of reductions are going to be made,” Dean stressed. “This is just a useful step for everybody to go through to determine where we can find savings.”

Nonetheless, with the loss of the department’s eight lowest-producing recycling drop-off centers, only four would remain — centers in Bellevue, Hermitage, Elysian Fields and at Hillsboro High School. Closures could disturb a program that delivers money to Metro schools based on the number of weight collected at each center.

According to Lynch, cuts could also mean the closing of both the Omohundro and Anderson Lane residential waste and recycling facilities; the elimination of the department’s environmental education instructor; and the loss of eight employees in the engineering division and two workers in the safety and finance division, among other job losses.

Dean recognized Public Works has endured some of the biggest hits in recent years and said his goal is to ensure that Metro is providing the most services it can to the public.

“We’ll work our way through this and come up with a number that we can live with,” Dean said.


7 Comments on this post:

By: TharonChandler on 3/31/10 at 11:38

These are Exactly the services they should fund, First. Recycling not only keeps our environment cleaner for ourselves and for future generations but it cuts down material costs of Limited natural resources.

You want to have a bunch of illegal aliens working at McDonalds, taking jobs from US citizens; you should have them out picking up cans and bottles and all the other trash this slipshod economy produces. You don't see them litter like us in Europe. They serve on fine china and they have Turkish immigrants to wash the dishes. I'd wash them for ya but you just want to fake it and pretend I did. Peace.

By: concernedtaxpayer on 3/31/10 at 1:22

It is sad how public works really suffers when there are budget cuts but how other departments like Metro Police, Fire, and MNPS can usually deal with cuts and still be fine. However, typically, all of the above 3 can find a few areas where they waste tons of money and are not really affected. However, thats the way the government operates. Sometimes I wish a mayor of a small county would become the mayor of Davidson County because someone who is accustomed to not having the amount of tax revenue like Nashville does will quickly be able to find opportunities where cuts can be made. For starters, many smaller country county schools operate on a budget of $4000-5500 per student whereas in Metro it is $8440 per student. Sounds like there should be some money that could be trimmed out of the budget. Also, what is wrong with creating volunteer fire departments here in Davidson County. Even though there needs to be paid firemen, this city could also run by using some volunteer fire departments. I would have to say that this recession should teach governments how to be less wasteful with taxpayer dollars and how to make each employee be more productive.

By: slzy on 3/31/10 at 8:55

don't worry,when the convention center opens they will have to hire people to count the money.

By: idgaf on 4/1/10 at 3:58

Storey after storey like this each one a reason to get rid of dean for committing us to the debt of the MCC.

By: dogmrb on 4/1/10 at 8:12

Who is Storey?

By: concernedtaxpayer on 4/1/10 at 3:38

Why are they closing down some of the drop offs? Instead, why not shut down Curby. I believe last year the Tennessean had an article that the drop off locations were making money for the city while Curby was costing the city money.

By: pswindle on 4/1/10 at 6:01

Every spare dime goes to the convention center.