Talks continue about how to boost efficiencies when it comes to seasonal responsibilities for the City of Brighton’s DPW.

City Council held a study session with staff regarding winter sidewalk and summer turf maintenance, with dialogue centered on potential changes to increase efficiency and safety. Lawn maintenance was the shorter discussion of the two and Council members were said to be open to making changes to improve efficiency and safety. There was no talk of eliminating any employees but its possible different crews could be shifted around or consolidated to save time and equipment, and that some city properties currently maintained could perhaps be left to grow wild.

This is DPW Director Marcel Goch’s first summer working for the City and he’s been busy evaluating the department procedures and practices and how things operate. Goch tells WHMI he’s looking at everything and wants to be fiscally responsible but safe when considering ways to gain some efficiencies down the road to save time and money.

Goch says it’s a balancing act when it comes to snow removal and plowing and there are still a lot of discussions to be had. During times of big snow events, the priority is roads first and then immediately clearing sidewalks, which is often done with crews working extended shifts, leading to excessive overtime costs and crew fatigue. Goch says if they do a straight time, that could alleviate some stress and pressure on crews coming in. He says it’s kind of a balancing act to determine how many people you can bring in at one time but still be able to keep a crew throughout the day, especially during big snow storms because people can get burnt out. Goch says they want to get the job done but also keep everybody safe because a lot of times clean-up work goes all night and into the next day.

Staff has recommended rethinking the status of sidewalk maintenance, with Goch saying sidewalks are important but you have to be able to prioritize everything. Sidewalk maintenance and snow removal is technically the responsibility of the individual property owner per ordinance, but the City has been clearing sidewalks in the downtown area and on Grand River as a courtesy service for the last several years. Goch expects they’ll probably host future discussions on that, noting this will be his first winter season to evaluate things and see how much time is spent on different jobs. Also being evaluated are current practices related to mowing and maintenance on city properties and how often it should be done. (JM)