Sullivan County may provide brush, leaf pickup service

J. H. Osborne • Apr 15, 2007 at 12:12 PM

BLOUNTVILLE - Sullivan County residents who live outside cities may be about to get a couple of new services provided by the county.

Allan D. Pope, Sullivan County commissioner of highways, said last week that his department already has provided brush pickup to some county residents. Pope said he plans to expand the service - and add leaf vacuuming as well.

"We are supplying some more services," Pope told a group of county commissioners. "We just recently started supplying brush pickup ... so, if you have somebody come out and trim your trees, we do brush pickup and haul it. As long as it's in the county."

Pope made the comments while presenting a budget request to the Sullivan County Commission's Executive Committee.

He is seeking a $1.3 million increase in the highway department's budget for the upcoming fiscal year (FY). If approved by the Sullivan County Commission, the request would push the highway department's FY08 budget to $10.3 million. But that amount includes about $800,000 in state aid projects, which means the county would be reimbursed for those funds once projects are completed.

The rest of the $1.3 million increase Pope is asking for includes:

•$253,211 to pay for five new employees.

•$250,000 to buy five new dump trucks.

The highway department's budget does not include a line item for brush pickup or leaf removal.

Neither service has been offered by the county in the past.

City property owners pay city property taxes, and part of that money funds city public works departments - which deliver those services to city residents.

A portion of Sullivan County's property tax rate - paid by city property owners, too - is dedicated to funding the Sullivan County Highway Department.

For 2006, Sullivan County's property tax rate was $2.53 per $100 of assessed value - and about 4.7 cents of that was to fund the county highway department's current budget.

"One of the things we're going to have to get into is the leaf business," Pope said. "Back in the winter, we had one of the crews spend a couple of days ... and pulled eight large bags of leaves out of the drainage system. To us, it's easier to invest $15,000, approximately, in a leaf vacuum and spend about two and half months with a couple of people sucking up leaves than it is to get that out of the storm drains."

Sullivan County's FY07 budget, which covers the county's finances from July 1 of last year through June 30 of this year, is about $150.7 million.

Pope's budget request to the Executive Committee is a part of the county's monthslong annual budget process. He and other county department heads began formulating their requests months ago. County commissioners review those requests through the commission's committee system. Later, the commission's Budget Committee will use funding recommendations from the other committees, along with revenue projections, to develop a comprehensive budget proposal for the full commission's consideration.

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