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Cookeville Considering Privatizing Lawn Care Service

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Cookeville Considering Privatizing Lawn Care Service

Cookeville wants to privatize its lawn care services in an effort to save money and get other projects done.

Leisure Services Director Rick Woods said the city received six bids from landscaping companies. He said the city could save money on labor and equipment by selecting the low bids for services at each city location that requires weekly mowing. Woods said this would relieve the city’s difficulty finding seasonal workers.

“We don’t have anybody identified that’s worked with us the past couple of years that’s coming back this year,” Woods said. “That does happen for us. It happens often for us at the cemetery where we have one seasonal employee that we add. It happens for us at the sportsplex. We have one guy.”

Woods said Leisure Service could go from seven seasonal mowers to three if the service is privatized. He said those employees would be freed up to do other projects they have not had time for while mowing has been a priority.

“It’s cleaning the properties of the debris and all of that,” Woods said. “It is also spot weed control throughout, not just weed-eating. And, It’s monthly edging on sidewalks and curbs and all of that, and there are some properties like City Hall and Dogwood Park, some of the more visible properties, we’ve included fertilization.”

City Council will vote on the privatization Thursday night.

Woods said the department could save some $15,000 annually on lawnmower maintenance, fuel, fertilizer, and other equipment. City Manager James Mills said the city should consider accepting bids for a one-year contract to see how the new process would work. He said that would allow the city to monitor the quality of the work and avoid extra costs from the three-year contracts also available in the bid proposals.

“I think it’s, why would you not try it and see,” Mills said. “Because we don’t know what kind of work we’ll get from these companies. I’m assuming it would be good.”

Taking the low bids would result in a cost of some $70,000 for Leisure Services and some $36,000 from Public Works. Leisure Services can offset that cost by hiring fewer seasonal workers, plus the additional savings on equipment. Public Works needs to retain the normal amount of seasonal employees even with the new service, but they would be freed up to complete tasks that mowing has superseded.

Mills said mowing begins in March, so this would require a budget amendment for service from March through June when the contract can be put in the city’s new budget.


The post Cookeville Considering Privatizing Lawn Care Service appeared first on News Talk 94.1/AM 1600.