Worker shortage, costs has some rethinking city leaf service

Taking workers from other jobs has some concerned.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Big, magnificent trees are one of Lexington’s biggest assets but at this time of year, they also are the root of one of its biggest headaches — leaves.

Removing tons of leaves before they wash into the drainage system, causing clogs and flooding, is a city service that usually runs from November through December . It’s loved by many who will plan their schedules around leaf-raking and bagging to meet pick up schedules.

It’s loathed by others who think it’ s a luxury the city might not be able to afford.

Getting all those leaves collected last year was tough because of a worker shortage and it may be worse this year. That’s forcing some city leaders to rethink the thousands of dollars spent on the program.

“I don’t want to take your main guys off their jobs to do this when we have roads that need to be fixed every day. We need to keep that going. We may have to look at making a change this year, we’ve never had to, we’ve made a lot of changes during this pandemic. And I don’t want to see our workers have to do another job while their real job is more important to keep that road safe,” Urban County Council member Richard Moloney said this week.

The city has raised pay for leaf workers to $11.50 an hour, but city leaders say they still likely will have to use main line road and public works crews to get leaf removal done this year.

“I just don’t see anyone coming to work for us for that,” Moloney said.

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