Up to 30 DeKalb roads are not being maintained at all by county government, and almost 100 more are only serviced once every three months, but CEO Michael Thurmond has secured an extra $75,000 from the Board of Commissioners to fix the situation.
While requesting the funding from the commissioners on May 15, Thurmond apologized to residents who’ve been complaining about the lack of road maintenance, and promised to do better.
“We weren’t doing what we were obligated to do,” he said. “This is something that’s gone on for several years. Disappointing.”
To get the funds to expand mowing operations, which the BOC approved on May 22, Thurmond revealed the extent of the county’s failings in mowing and maintaining its rights of way.
The $75,000 will be used to pay Atlanta-based Flex Landscaping for landscaping maintenance.
Before the BOC voted for funding, District 6 Commissioner Kathie Gannon said she and other members of the county’s Planning, Economic Development, and Community Services (PECS) Committee had been asking staff from different departments for months to provide maintenance schedules for county facilities and parks, to no avail.
She thanked Thurmond for obtaining the schedule for right-of-way maintenance and asked for more disclosure among staff going forward.
“We wanted to see what the maintenance schedule was because there have been a lot of complaints about our parks not getting mowed et cetera,” she said.
With the $75,000, the county will improve right of way maintenance countywide as part of Thurmond’s Operation Clean Sweep, initiated last year.
The multi-departmental effort to eradicate blight and promote beautification requires outside landscaping services to assist with mowing, litter collection, trash removal, trimming, blowing, and herbicide services on a six-week cycle.
Thurmond revealed to the BOC that 125 DeKalb roads are only scheduled to be mowed quarterly, or four times a year.
“We need to apologize to the folk who’ve been complaining,” he said. “I don’t think our response has been what it should have been.”
The CEO said most of the roads that are maintained quarterly - which covers a total of 470 miles - are in the southern part of DeKalb. He said that up to 25 percent of those roads have not been maintained at all over the last five years.
“Once a quarter is almost nothing at all in the summer,” Thurmond said. “We need to address this because it’s growing season.”
Of the 125 roads on the quarterly maintenance schedule, 98 are in Districts 3, 4 and 5.
“I’m looking at this list of roads and a lot of them look really familiar,” said District 4 Commissioner Steve Bradshaw.
There are 12 quarterly maintained roads in District 1; 3 in District 2; 2 in Super District 6; and 10 in Super District 7.
Going forward, the CEO’s office will be in charge of the road maintenance.
“We’re continuing now to research this and to develop a strategy that will ensure that every street and roadway in DeKalb County that we’ve responsibility for will receive the same level of service and the same quality of service,” Thurmond said. “This is a major priority for me to make sure we create a program and an infrastructure that can do this consistently throughout the county on an ongoing basis.”
Thurmond applauded the honesty of staff in revealing departmental negligence, and said it was not intentional – just a matter of the county not being able to achieve all of the scheduled work in-house.
“We’re going to do a much better job of coordinating this work and having the resources to do the work and the oversight to make sure the work is being done properly,” Thurmond said.