Modesto will spend an additional $361,170 to help rid city trees of the parasite mistletoe.
The City Council approved on a 6-0 vote Tuesday spending the extra funding to hire an additional tree trimming crew and for overtime and part-time help in this fiscal year, which ends June 30.
Mayor Garrad Marsh did not attend the meeting.
The city is paying for the boost to eradicate mistletoe through savings from recent concessions from its labor groups.
The city will spend $261,170 to hire and equip a two-person tree trimming crew and will spend $100,000 on overtime and extra help.
City officials say the crew will focus year-round on mistletoe, adding that the parasite could be removed from about 3,500 additional trees.
The overtime and extra help will focus on at least 10 of the 13 city neighborhoods where more than 6,800 trees could be lost this winter because of mistletoe.
Council members thanked Julie Hannon, Modesto's director of parks, recreation and neighborhoods, and other city officials for their work on the proposal.
"I think this is a great plan," Councilman Dave Lopez said. "
I look forward to this change. I think it will make a huge impact on the community."
The city's forestry division has trimmed its work force by nearly 40 percent in about a decade, from 33 workers then to 20 today because of budget cuts. This has resulted in a steep decline in the number of trees pruned annually, from about 15,800 to about 9,200.
In an interview before the meeting, Hannon said the overtime and extra help will start immediately.
She said it could take a couple of months to hire and equip the tree trimming crew, but added she hopes it can be done sooner.
Bee staff writer Kevin Valine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2316.
In other action Tuesday, the Modesto City Council:
Accepted the quarterly travel expense report for the mayor, council members, charter officers, deputy city manager and department directors. The report states those officials spent $8,463 from July through September.
Approved the plans and contractor's bid for the Airport Neighborhood Community Center. The project's total cost is $438,141. The project includes renovating a duplex in the 800 block of Empire Avenue for the center.
Approved a lease and management agreement with Modesto City Schools and a lease with the Tuolumne River Trust for the Airport Neighborhood Community Center. The school district and the trust would operate and maintain the center.
Approved four loans totaling more than $600,000 with the Housing Authority of the County of Stanislaus for the purchase and rehabilitation of four homes. The funding comes from the federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program.
Held a hearing on reallocating federal Neighborhood Stabilization Funding from housing for former foster youth and homeless youth to housing for seniors and special-needs tenants.