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updated: 9/24/2012 11:47 PM

Hoffman Estates Public Works requests $60,000 more

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In an effort to battle the emerald ash borer while staying up to date on other forestry service requests, the Hoffman Estates Public Works Department wants an additional $60,000 to divide between contractual ash tree removals and contractual tree trimming.

Department Director Joseph Nebel explained the request -- which has come about due to an invasive species of beetle killing thousands of ash trees across the region -- during a public works and utilities committee meeting Monday night.

For 2012, a total of $50,000 was already budgeted for tree trimming by contractors and $30,000 was already budgeted for ash tree removal by contractors. However, because of a large number of forestry service requests, the department is requesting authorization to spend up to an additional $30,000 for both.

"We're finding that we need some additional help and resources to take down ash trees as well as address some parkway tree trimming not related to the emerald ash borer so we can get ourselves back on a better cycle for tree trimming," Nebel said.

So far this year about 125 of the more than 5,500 ash trees on village parkways have been removed by village crews and more than 70 have been removed by a contractor. Between 50 and 75 were removed by the village last year, Nebel said. He added that the department has already identified an additional 102 ash trees that need to be removed, and the number keeps growing daily.

"Driving down the street you don't want to look up," he said.

Village Manager Jim Norris said he has heard from village managers in surrounding suburbs that the number of ash trees that need to be removed can more than double each year.

"The dollars that this is going to eat up are going to be huge," he said, adding that the village will try to work on the problem in the most cost-effective way possible, which will include letting the contractors remove bigger trees.

"What's happened is that, because of the amount of time our crews are spending on the smaller trees, we're not keeping up with what we need to be able to do trimming-wise," he added. "That's why we're trying to do more contractual trimming and more contractual removal to try to keep both services ongoing. And it's not going to get better."

Part of the requested $60,000 would be absorbed into the forestry budget and the remainder would likely come from the village's fund balance. The committee approved the request, but it still needs to be brought to the village board.

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