You might notice a few more overhanging branches next year in Riverside.
A closely divided Riverside village board decided Nov. 21 to cut $12,000 from the tree-trimming budget next year. Trustees James Reynolds, Lonnie Sacchi, Mark Shevitz and Village President Michael Gorman favored cutting the tree-trimming budget to $38,000 from the $50,000 that Riverside Village Manager Peter Scalera had recommended.
“To me this was a financial issue, not a tree issue, and in keeping with my view of managing our budget in the best interest of our village and our taxpayers, I felt the best allocation of our resources in these times was to not allocate more money to the tree trimming,” said Gorman who cast the deciding vote.
Trustees Joe Ballerine, Ben Sells and Jean Sussman favored spending $50,000 on tree trimming.
Scalera said that this year Riverside has spent about $68,000 on tree trimming. For next year’s budget, which has yet to be approved, Village Forester Michael Collins originally recommended a tree trimming budget of about $75,000. Scalera cut that figure to $50,000, the amount he submitted to the village board at their budget workshop.
The impact of the cut to $38,000?
“It will basically mean fewer trees will be trimmed next year,” Scalera said.
Ballerine called the cut shortsighted.
“Trimming trees is like maintenance,” Ballerine said. “We had our forester speak and we don’t listen to him.”
Sussman also said the village board should listen to Collins.
“My belief is that we hired an expert and for something like tree trimming we should, for the most part, take his advice,” Sussman said. “To make a big deal out of $12,000, in my estimation, does not make a lot of sense.”
But Reynolds argued it was wise policy to cut the tree-trimming budget. He said the village needed to conserve resources to fight the emerald ash borer infestation and that recent tree trimming seemed excessive.
“In my personal opinion, I think the trimming was overdone in the last go-round,” Reynolds said. “I don’t see a need for it. It’s also antithetical to the Olmsted vision.”