RIDGELAND — An increase in the city’s lawn care bill has proven to be an unforeseen consequence of planting trees across town.

Alderman approved nearly a 15-percent increase for the contractors who maintain the Highland Colony Parkway.

“We received a tremendous amount of money to plant trees and we did that and now one of our contractors said it is taking them longer to cut the grass along the Highland Colony Parkway,” Mayor Gene McGee said at Monday evening’s work session.

The city board approved a budget amendment for the Public Works Department on Tuesday evening’s consent agenda.

Public Works Director Mike McCollum presented a proposed contract price increase of $11,200 for the remainder of a 2019 contract with Smith Lawns, which ends in October. McCollum said that the bill came out to $350 per cut or 32 cuts. 

He pointed out the city had planted 307 trees in the median of the roadway along Highland Colony Parkway.

Ward 1 Alderman Ken Heard asked what their options were.

McCollum said that they could break the contract or deny the increase, in which case the contractor could break the contract if they wanted to.

Alderman-at-large D.I. Smith asked if the increased cutting time constituted a 14.65 percent increase.
“I certainly think they are entitled to more money,” Ward 2 Alderman Chuck Gautier said.

McCollum said that he thought the increase was fair.

“I think they are entitled to this amount considering the changes made to the area,” McCollum said.

The city has had a landscaping agreement for this job with Smith’s Lawn since March 2013. The original agreement was $76,452.48 and has been increased to $87,653.48.

Aldermen pointed out that US Lawns had won the contract for the next round.

In other board action, aldermen:
• Set a public hearing to amend the future land use plan of the city of Ridgeland before the Mayor and Board of Aldermen for 6 p.m. on May 21 at Ridgeland City Hall.

• Accepted a $50,000 donation from Madison County Emergency Management and an accompanying budget amendment for the Ridgeland Fire Department.

•   Approved a maintenance agreement with Taylor Power Systems for the generators at the Ridgeland Police Department.

•  Approved a law enforcement support office application.

• Approved a special law event permit for Bodie’s Race Company’s 5K and 10K.

• Approved a truck route for Eutaw Construction for their work on the Lake Harbour Drive Extension Project along the Highland Colony Parkway. Public Works Director Mike McCollum said that they would be using a similar route to the trucks leaving the Costco site.

•  Accepted the March 2019 privilege license report.

•  Approved the payment of claims.

•  Went into executive session to discuss a matter of possible litigation with City Attorney John Scanlan. Community Development Director Alan Hart and Public Works Director Mike McCollum were asked to stay in the discussion. No motions were made in executive session, apart from the decision to leave the executive session.