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Homeowners to share cost of St. Joseph County leaf pickup this fall

Published: Aug. 18, 2020 at 5:18 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - St. Joseph County will offer a leaf pickup program this fall, but it requires homeowners to pick up part of the tab.

The amount of tax money going into leaf pickup has been cut by 60 percent.

Instead of covering the costs of leaf pickup this year, the county has decided to share them.

“It’s really important that we do whatever we can to keep this program so we can take care of people’s health,” said St. Joseph County Auditor Michael Hamann. “Back in May I had COVID, and now I’m one of those long haulers so it affects my breathing and other things so I’m just trying to adapt to it. So I’m not looking forward to a smoky fall I’ll tell you that.”

County officials scrambled to come up with a program they could afford because they felt they couldn’t afford to see a return to leaf burning. That program was approved today and it calls for spending up to $349,000 to subsidize the leaf pickup rates of a private contractor.

Homeowners who want the service will have to pay out of pocket and those who have been critical of the program in the past don’t have to take part.

“It changes entirely when the person who gets the program puts some of his own money into it,” said St. Joseph County Councilman Dick Pfeil. “He becomes a customer and as a customer he demands service and as a customer he says to the vendor, if you don’t take care of me this year, I won’t be back next year.”

The earlier a home owner signs up for the program, the cheaper the rates will be.

They cost is based on a given area’s leaf density, with leaf density broken down into four categories.

For example, an early bird customer in a low leaf density area would pay $39.

The early bird price is $99 in a high density neighborhood.

A homeowner who signs up at the last minute with pickup already in progress would pay $99 in a low density neighborhood and $249 in a high density area.

“The program provides for up to four fall passes. It has a guaranteed spring pass and collection will begin in October and be ongoing basically through December 18th, weather permitting,” explained St. Joseph County Engineer Jessica Clark.

Registration has already begun at www.sjclp.com.

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