If a city of Madison budget-cutting measure is approved, the annual midsummer curbside garbage bonanza known as "Hippie Christmas" could last for weeks instead of days.
Looking for ways to cut costs, Mayor Dave Cieslewicz proposed in his operating budget to cut the overtime allocated for trash crews in August. This could potentially save the city about $25,000, says Al Schumacher, streets superintendent.
But, without that overtime, it would take street crews much longer to clear the streets downtown of unwanted furniture, appliances and garbage that pile up as students move. In recent years, Schumacher says, the city starts putting extra crews on the street at 4 a.m. days before Aug. 15, when most student leases turn over.
The downtown crews will work a few hours of overtime in the early morning and then start their regular shifts at 7 a.m., Schumacher says. "By constantly sending crews there throughout the week, we're able to take care of it in about a seven-day window."
Cutting the overtime, says Schumacher, would add to street congestion and drag this process out considerably: "We anticipate it'll take about three weeks before we're totally cleaned up."
Downtown Ald. Mike Verveer thinks the proposal "is totally unacceptable" and plans to introduce an amendment to restore the funds. Schumacher doesn't like the cut either but says it's better than cutting positions. He adds, "I'm going to leave it up to the politicians to decide whether it's a good idea or not."