New Albany News

2013 budget preparation

Infested street trees could create fiscal conundrum


New Albany City Council needs to determine how much money to budget in 2013 for the replacement of street trees because about 1,000 have been infested by the emerald ash borer.

City Council on Nov. 27 reviewed the proposed 2013 budget, which interim Finance Director Vicki McKinney called "lean."

The budget currently includes $30,000 for street-tree replacement.

But the city is scheduled to replace 80 dying street trees in the New Albany Links subdivision, and the cost could reach $40,000, said City Manager Joseph Stefanov.

Bill Dorman, the city's engineering manager, told City Council that in 2010 and 2011, New Albany replaced 551 street trees that were dying because of the emerald ash borer.

The emerald ash borer is a wood-boring beetle native to Asia. Adult beetles place their larvae under the ash tree's bark. As the larvae leave the tree, they leave D-shaped holes. Ash trees infested by the beetles usually die within three to five years.

Dorman said the city pays to remove the trees, which can cost between $250 and $300 per tree.

If the tree is within a subdivision, the city pays half the cost of the replacement and the local homeowners' association pays the other half.

In 2012, the city replaced 81 trees on Maynard Place in the Links, which cost the city $11,455 and the Links homeowners' association $6,480. The relatively low cost was attributed to the tree removal process. Dorman said more established trees can require the city to contract an outside company for removal.

Dorman said the New Albany Co. has had some success in treating street trees in subdivisions, but treatments can be expensive. One type of treatment, he said, costs $15,000 to treat 62 trees every two years.

In related business Nov. 27, City Council members put $97,000 in the 2013 budget to fund grant requests from nonprofit organizations. The total amount requested in 2012 was $90,576, which was $14,576 more than the city had budgeted.

Mayor Nancy Ferguson said the 2013 grant requests were turned in by Nov. 26 and at least one more was submitted that was not considered last year.