Village officials agreed Jan. 23 to pay up to $65,000 to have an outside firm come in this year to remove dozens of trees across Brookfield.

Members of the village board discussed a memo from Director of Public Works Ken Blaauw at the village board’s Jan. 23 meeting. The trees, the memo notes, are either under power lines or in “hard to reach places” and would be a challenge for village employees to cut down.

The roughly 100 trees slated for removal are either dead or diseased. If the contract is not approved by board members, the village’s own public works employees would work to take down the trees. Some of the trees are on highly trafficked streets, such as Maple Avenue and Washington Avenue.

“I would need flaggers on the crew and extra precautions taken in order to ensure safety of the crew as well as the public,” Blaauw told village board members on Jan. 23. “Contractors can do it faster. They can do more in a day and they can do it quick and, I believe, safer.”

Blaauw said his department has averaged around 100 to 120 tree removals annually and, with a contractor’s help, that number could increase. The contract, if approved, will include stump removal as well, noted Village Manager Keith Sbiral.

“I think we’ll get more effective pricing or more aggressive pricing on the stumping if we include it in the bid,” Sbiral said. “I think it’ll be more efficient if they do it.”

Sbiral told board members the work wouldn’t start until after the first property tax payment is due in February so “we have a little bit better cash flow.”

A few board members, including President Kit Ketchmark and Trustee Brian Oberhauser, agreed that contractors are better prepared for specific tasks like tree removal, mentioning greater expertise and larger crew sizes.

“They are for-profit. Their goal is to make money,” Blaauw said. “They hire the best people they can hire.”

Sbiral also noted contractors, unlike general public works employees, don’t have to worry about other potential issues that can pop up to delay tree removals, such as a broken water main or a broken elevator. Still, it was unclear how quickly an outside firm could start on the 100 or so trees.

“The one thing I don’t know is the backlog the contractors currently have,” Blaauw said. “I’m hoping they are very hungry and can attack this project early.”

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