By the end of today, city crews will be done with loose leaf collection for the season.
Crews made last passes through the city in the last several weeks, including working overtime on Saturdays, to rid the streets of leaves.
Now, with winter fully here, leaf equipment is coming off the trucks by end of day today (after one last pass).
I thank our Street Department for their hard work on this — and thank you for your patience. As I’ve said, I expect we will continue to offer this service going forward, but we will also take a hard look at how we deliver it in 2015 and beyond.
And my ask will always be the same: If, when and where possible (and I realize it’s not possible for some residents) I strongly encourage residents to mulch. It’s better for the environment, better for your lawn, and, due to the inefficiency of collection, helps our budget, freeing up time and manpower to tackle more core services.
We ask for your patience as city crews continue to collect leaves in neighborhoods across South Milwaukee.
Three leaf crews will be working overtime this Saturday and next Saturday — in addition to normal weekday hours — to get as many leaves picked up as possible. We expect this work to be complete by Saturday, Nov. 29, weather permitting.
A few additional notes:
- If residents have already placed leaves in the curb, and city crews have picked them up, please do not put additional leaves out. It is unlikely crews will return for a second pickup.
- Once we make the final sweep, any leaves not picked up will have to be bagged and brought to the self-deposit station by the property owner.
- Keep in mind that we cannot pick up leaves if cars are parked over the piles or tight up to the piles.
As crews continue to make their way through the city, we continue to ask that residents put away their rakes and mulch their leaves when and where possible. While the city will continue to do leaf collection, mulching is a better option for a number of reasons, including for the environment.
Learn more in the online letter I sent to residents this fall here.
(Note: Since I wrote this, we have found an alternative disposal site for our leaves: a facility in Caledonia. But the issues with the collection program remain remain the same.)
Going forward, into 2015 and beyond, we will be stepping up our communication efforts around the benefits of mulching. We’ll also continue to look for ways to deliver our leaf collection service more efficiently and cost effectively.
We appreciate your understanding.
So, leaf collection is in full swing and will continue into November.
As I’ve said, we are continuing this service this fall and expect to continue it into the future. I’ve also asked residents to consider other options given what we had been facing for the first time this fall: trucking all of our leaves to a landfill almost an hour away.
I say “had been facing” because, thanks to the hard work and persistence of our Street Department staff, we have a couple better disposal options.
First, we’re now trucking most of our leaves to a composting farm in Caledonia. Besides being much closer than Muskego, thus saving us fuel and man-hour costs, the fee they charge us to accept our leaves is also significantly less.
We’ve also been working with the Hunger Task Force Farm in Franklin as a potential disposal source.
So, good news. But the ask doesn’t change: Please put the rakes away, and mow. (Or ask the football team for help.)
It’s good for the city, the lawn and the environment.
Autumn is here, and I have a humble request: Put the rakes away, and mow.
In other words, please consider not having the city pick up and dispose of your leaves this fall, be it through our street collection program or at our self-deposit station.
I ask this because starting this fall we are no longer able to dispose of the leaves we collect at the two nearby locations we had been using. Instead, we are now faced with having to truck most, if not all, the leaves we collect to a landfill in Muskego, almost an hour away.
This is a problem for a number of reasons.
- First, it is extremely costly for taxpayers. From the labor costs of picking up the leaves and trucking them to the landfill to what the landfill bills us for accepting the leaves to the fuel costs associated with that work, we expect to spend more than $20,000 on leaf collection and disposal this fall, if nothing changes.
- Second, it makes the whole process much more inefficient. Taking an entire leaf crew off the street for several hours to travel to and from the landfill is an inefficient use of labor and equipment when our crews could be back on the street collecting more leaves.
- Third, it is bad for the environment. While the landfill does compost the leaves we give them, the extra fuel it takes to make the trip alone makes this bad for our planet. Plus, leaves being left in the street can be washed into area waterways, causing water quality issues. And piles of leaves can, and do, clog sewer drains during rainstorms.
My hope: We can reduce the amount of leaves we pick up this fall and every fall going forward. Even a 10% reduction would make a difference.
So, what I am asking taxpayers? Instead of raking your leaves into the street, please consider mulching them with your lawnmower, like I do. Or composting them. Or saving a few bags of leaves in your garage to use for mulch next spring. Anything that keeps us from taking your leaves on an hour-long truck ride. That’s not good for anyone.
As we do this, I also pledge the city will take a hard look at longer term solutions here – ways we can better offer this service in the years ahead. I expect we will continue to pick up and dispose of homeowners’ leaves. But something has to change.
Thank you for working with us on this issue.
Mayor, City of South Milwaukee
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has some good tips for homeowners in dealing with fall yard waste. Check it out here, and click on the “Fall Yard Care” tab. And please note that there are certain requirements around composting in the City of South Milwaukee. You can learn more in Section 8.09(9)(d)a of the Municipal Code online at our city website.