By Anne Fege
The City’s FY 2018 budget was released on April 13, with a proposed cut of $880,000 for shade tree pruning—a grave disappointment. With the City’s commitment to the Climate Action Plan, existing and large trees provide the most canopy cover, and they need to be managed and protected to maximize their health and life span.
The proposed reduction diminishes the City’s capacity to prune more trees on a regular cycle, monitor and mitigate tree risks, and increases City liability. It is about 35% of the total contractor work for tree and palm trimming, tree planting and emergency tree and limb removal, an amount far beyond most other program reductions.
We’re well aware that this is a “lean” budget year, BUT urban forestry has been -lean for a decade and solid commitments were made in the Climate Action Plan to increase tree canopy. commitments and the accompanying neighborhood benefits of trees. The Community Forest Advisory Board letter will recommend four (4) additional arborist/horticulture staff, as the City currently is (very) understaffed to manage tree care, planting, risk management, and emergency services; an additional $1 million to plant and establish 2,000 trees; and $500,000 for tree maintenance.
Please consider reaching out to the Mayor and Councilmembers by May 5 (when budget hearings begin). The Mayor and Council are likely to approve staff and funds for urban forestry only if we have a large, compelling, and organized ASK.
REFERENCES: Budget document, page 103: “Reduction in Broadleaf Tree Trimming Services. The Fiscal Year 2018 Proposed Budget includes the reduction of $881,746 in the Transportation & Storm Water Department for broadleaf tree trimming services. This reduction will reduce the number of estimated broadleaf trees trimmed from approximately 25,000 to 12,000 per year.”