Palatine expects to spend $2.5 million coping with emerald ash borer
The emerald ash borer, that invasive species of beetle that's decimating the region's ash tree population, is also making its presence known in Palatine's budget.
Village officials this week said they anticipate having to spend $2.5 million over the next eight years to remove and replace dead and dying ash trees.
"This is the first year where we saw a markable uptick of decline in our ash tree population," Public Works Director Matt Barry said.
Since 2008, the village has removed and replaced 400 ash trees, which made up 19 percent of the trees on public parkways. Removing and replacing the remaining 4,300 ash trees is expected to cost between $500 and $600 each.
Barry shared a couple of bright spots, including the lack of thicker, more stately trees that must be removed. He said more than half the ash trees are smaller than 12 inches in diameter and another 30 percent are between 13 and 18 inches. Less than 1 percent are greater than 30 inches in diameter.
Another bit of positive news, however small, is that Palatine received $37,000 in grants to help with costs.
Since officials accept that little can be done aside from managing the borer's impact, the council adopted a slight change in strategy.
The village will try to involve adjacent property owners in deciding which types of varieties should replace the ash trees. Owners of trees on private property can use chemical treatment to try to prolong an ash tree's life and can receive technical guidance from the village.
Going forward, Palatine won't offer a low-interest loan program to help private owners pay for removal due to lack of lender interest. It also won't try to make private removals a part of the public bidding process, a process Barry said proved administratively burdensome.
The village won't require property owners to obtain permits to remove private ash trees, a number officials believe totals between 5,000 and 15,000.
For the first time, Palatine in its 2012 budget allotted $125,000 in capital funding to supplement the village's regular tree maintenance program. That investment will likely double in the future.