From the RTD:
Grass in medians and parks around Richmond is approaching a foot tall and higher, and city officials are telling residents they should not expect it to be cut anytime soon.
“We’re woefully behind,” said deputy chief administrator John Buturla, citing budget cuts that will be in effect until the new fiscal year starts in July. “We ask people to be patient. Between now and July 1, we’re really going to be in a critical situation.”
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Playgrounds, lawns around city buildings and Richmond Public Schools facilities will receive somewhat more attention. But Bobby Vincent, the department’s deputy director, said there’s no way he can meet what he referred to as an “acceptable public perception.”
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Buturla noted that rain over the past week has not helped the situation. But he attributed the problem to the council’s decision last year to cut $9 million in funding for vacant positions across city departments to increase the Richmond Public Schools’ operating budget. That included $2.7 million cut from public works, which had historically been used to hire temporary seasonal help to assist with grounds maintenance.
That’s left the city with 21 employees cutting grass, less than half the number of workers typically assigned, according to Vincent.
“(The City Council) took bold steps in order to provide funding for schools,” Buturla said. “We understand that. We’re living within our means.”
Vincent said the situation should improve in July, when additional funds will become available with the beginning of the new fiscal year, for which the City Council already agreed to provide a $300,000 boost to the department.