Older folks in our fair city are upset about the city no longer vacuuming leaves up in the fall.
The city stopped the practice because the four vacuum trucks are old, costly to maintain, have a large carbon footprint, cost $75,000 to replace and are only used during two or three months a year. The new system cost the city $15,000 to buy reusable plastic bags so homeowners can rake and bag their leaves and put the bags curbside. City crews come by and dump bags into trucks and leave the bag to be used again and again.
Critics say bagging leaves is too hard for some folks, the old and infirm. Now some of us recall when folks raked and burned their leaves. Homeowners and their kids helped their families — it was called chores and some even got an allowance for doing their chores. Neighbors’ kids helped rake and burn leaves for a few dollars, just like we did with snow shoveling, mowing and raking lawns, washing cars, cleaning out under porches and behind garages, babysitting, etc. We no longer burn leaves so we have more fresh air, and less carbon footprint.
Now we pay taxes to have the city vacuum leaves up and take them to recycle into mulch. So instead of spending $15,000 in tax money for reusable plastic bags, folks want the city to spend $75,000 per new truck to go back to vacuuming and trucking so they don't have to bag.
What would be better, folks: paying taxes to have the city do everything for us or getting our kids out there to help with the chores, including raking and bagging leaves? Today taxes pay people to volunteer and parents pay to get their kids to and from volunteering so that, once or twice a year, a kid can say they collected canned food for charity. Why not pay the kid now to do some chores and help a neighbor? After all, there are organized service programs in every school, church and synagogue, etc., so where are the kids to help rake and bag leaves?
Are taxes to vacuum leaves really progressive? As JFK said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”
— Christopher Pratt