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updated: 7/23/2012 11:19 PM

Hot weather's effect on trees will cost St. Charles taxpayers

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Bad weather will directly impact St. Charles taxpayers' pocketbooks now that city officials are prepared to spend nearly $122,000 to save hundreds of trees from the consistently hot, dry conditions this summer.

The city planted 625 new trees this year as part of the plan dealing with tree losses from the emerald ash borer infestation; it also replaced 375 trees last fall.

But all those trees are in jeopardy of dying thanks to this summer's conditions.

If the trees die, the money spent on them would be a total loss -- plus there would be the additional cost to replace them.

There are two methods to prevent that from happening.

First, the city is prepared to pay a watering service to conduct six intermittent waterings of the trees at a cost of $9 per tree during the next three months, which would cost about $77,000.

Or, residents could bear the cost of watering the trees themselves.

Residents could supply water to the trees at a much cheaper overall cost -- about $2 per 1,000 gallons.

"How often do we hear citizens say we're spending money unnecessarily?" Alderman Rita Payleitner said. "Here's a chance for them to chip in."

City officials said they are using door hangers to inform residents St. Charles would like resident assistance watering trees.

Next, the watering company likely will be hired but will check each tree to make sure it needs to be watered first.

Each tree a resident supplies with water will reduce the use of taxpayer money spent on the watering company.

But even help from residents won't get the city completely off the hook for paying for some unexpected tree maintenance.

Winds during the July 1 storm that knocked out electricity in some parts of the city caused major damage to many of the city's trees.

The city will spend about $31,000 to hire a company that will help city employees cut and remove damaged trees, limbs and brush.

There were about 45 trees either toppled or so severely damaged in the July 1 storm that they must be replaced.

At about $300 a tree, that replacement will cost taxpayers about $13,500, creating the overall total of nearly $122,000.

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