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Street Sweeping May Return

POSTED June 13, 2012 1:29 a.m.

After a two-year hiatus due to budget cutbacks, Oakdale residents will have a chance to tell city officials which route to take when it comes to the return of street sweeping services.

At the June 5 city council meeting, Director of Public Works Joe Leach announced the city is looking to restore its street sweeping services this year in an effort to keep the city’s streets cleaner and local waterways clear of debris as well as enhancing pride in the community.

Leach presented three plans to city officials that included seasonal street sweeping services once per month from September to March, yearly once per month and yearly twice per month cleaning. Street sweeping along Yosemite Avenue and F Street is not affected because of Caltrans mandates and financing.

The council will also consider if the service would likely be funded through a refuse fee increase to customers or possibly Measure O funds.

To gauge the rate increase, both of Leach’s proposals included the cost-per-customer figure if the service was performed by city staff or outsourced to a private company.

“The challenge with doing it ourselves is the air board requirements have become stricter and we can’t use our current sweeper,” Leach said. “The new street sweeper cost is included (in the city cost-per-customer) and financed over five years with a part-time staff.”

All the figures presented by Leach showed a clear dollar advantage to contracting the service. That, combined with the general trend of budget cutting and down-sizing, can’t help but make privatizing municipal street cleaning a more attractive option as Oakdale moves into the future. The monthly rate increase per customer ranged from 46 cents per month to $1.04 for contracted services compared to 66 cents per month to $1.08 for city provided street sweeping.

A 2011 government study showed the same benefits of privatization of street sweeping as that of trash collection and disposal services. In Southern California study, 20 sample cities were examined; 10 that used municipal workers and 10 that used private firms. Where sweeping was done by contractors, local governments paid an average of $9.52 per curb mile cleaned. Where city crews swept the streets, the rate rose to $15.21, an increase of 60 percent.

Oakdale has 167 curb miles requiring sweeping.

Private contractors point out that because private sweepers may serve several different customers, they often buy specialized equipment and offer a wide variety of services such as power washing and sewer cleaning. Many of these services are needed by smaller government entities that cannot afford to make the necessary investments on their own or pay for additional training. Private contractors state they can satisfy public demand without increasing fixed costs and overhead.

After the presentation, the council decided to allow the customers to provide input for the direction for the city to take.

Questionnaires will be going out in city bills asking customers to choose one of the alternatives.

“We’re expecting the community to tell us what options to take,” said Mayor Pat Paul.

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