Vacuum leaf collection starts, stretches tight budget

By Gene Petriello - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - It's time to rake those leaves to the end of your property line. The city's leaf collection program starts today and it'll soon be in your neighborhood. But, with the big clean up, comes a big price tag that's causing the Department of Public Works to pinch pennies.

Pat Lupien is getting an early start on Monday morning, just moments before the big vacuum makes its way to her home.

"It's with dread I've been waiting for this to happen because now I have to blow leaves on my day off," says Pat.

A necessary evil for some, that comes with a big price tag. Last year, the city cut the number of times the vacuum collected the leaves from two times to once. That move was made to cut some of the costs down. But, this year, it's back to two cycles in a tough budget year for the Department of Public Works.

"Certainly, it's more expensive. You're basically doubling the work," says Sharon North with Richmond Department of Public Works.

All the way up to $1.5 million. "We're just pinching pennies here and there," says North. She tells us no services will be cut from the budget. The City Council did give them some money, but not enough to cover the entire price tag for the cleanup.

"We can scale back on things, without cutting everything. It's just a matter of being fiscally responsible," says North.

It's also a responsibility Pat is taking seriously, even on her day off: Keeping the leaves on the edge of her property line, out of the streets and gutters.

"I'm ready to clean it up, make it look pretty," adds Pat.

But the city hopes it does not make a pretty big dent on an already stretched budget.

For more information, click under All Access to find out when the leaves will come off of your property. There, you will also find helpful tips to speed up the clean up. The second cycle of collection dates are to be determined. But, we're told it will run from the middle of January until March.

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