Budget cutbacks could take toll on downtown Beaufort

emoody@beaufortgazette.comOctober 6, 2013 


Raymond Brown, a crew leader with The Greenery Inc., helps move heavy equipment Friday afternoon in preparation for the annual Beaufort Shrimp Festival at Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park in Beaufort.

SARAH WELLIVER — Sarah Welliver Buy Photo

Eventually, people will notice the differences.

In fact, they already noticed when trash bins weren't emptied downtown and when the public restrooms in the Beaufort Downtown Marina got locked at night.

But many of the changes and cuts from a reduced budget and smaller landscaping contract won't be noticeable for a while, according to Isiah Smalls, director of the Beaufort Department of Public Works.

"Some of these things are going to crop up that we don't immediately feel the impact of ..." he said, "but those things are going to become a challenge for us in the future."

The city is three months into a yearlong plan for reduced downtown services approved by City Council in June. Reductions included a landscaping contract with The Greenery that was cut from $457,000 in the 2013 fiscal year to $285,500 for 2014.

"Some things just won't get done, and other things will just take longer to get done," city manager Scott Dadson said.

Mowing, fertilization, insect control and weed control will continue as usual at Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park. But the amount of other aesthetic work -- pruning and edging ornamental flower beds, mulching, replanting flower beds, scrubbing and washing sidewalks -- will be reduced. The irrigation system will be checked and adjusted less often.

Some work throughout the core commercial district has been eliminated from The Greenery contract. That includes tree trimming, power scrubbing sidewalks, weed control, litter patrol, holiday decorating, event cleanup, and painting and repairing swings, chairs, tables and doors.

The Greenery will again empty trash cans 730 times a year. That task originally was cut completely from its contract, but the result of that reared its smelly head quickly, Smalls said.

Current needs in the park and commercial district range from $50,000 for sinkhole repairs, $60,000 to remove or replace distressed and hazardous trees, $50,000 for sidewalks and $90,000 for pavers on the West Street park entrance and promenade, according to Smalls.

"If you don't continuously monitor and do repairs, that could cause significant problems," he said, adding that there is not enough money available for all of the work.

Rebar is coming through the pavers on the promenade, and sinkholes can't be left unrepaired, Smalls said.

"We have to be able to repair those things," he said. "We can't budget for them because we can't anticipate those happening, but they have to be dealt with."

Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.

Related content: City of Beaufort presentation on cuts http://cityofbeaufort.org/Data/Sites/1/media/city%20manager/presentation-for-council-sept-17-2013-(5)-(2).pdf

Beaufort City Council approves $17.7 million budget with tax, trash fee increases, June 25, 2013 http://www.islandpacket.com/2013/06/25/2555757/beaufort-city-council-approves.html

City of Beaufort budget plan includes property tax, trash fee increases, June 18, 2013 http://www.islandpacket.com/2013/06/18/2546864/beaufort-county-budget-plan-includes.html

Sinkhole in Beaufort's waterfront park under repair, July 1, 2013 http://www.islandpacket.com/2013/07/01/2563376/sinkhole-in-beauforts-waterfront.html

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