SIKESTON, MO (KFVS) - Mowing season is here. Now, the city of Sikeston is faced with the task of figuring out how to take care of some 300 empty residential lots without breaking the budget.
City officials say with the price tag of nearly $100,000, it's not going to happen the way some would have hoped.
Public works director Jay Lancaster says that was estimated cost to hire contractors to mow the about 310 lots in Sikeston this summer.
The lots belong to the Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority (LCRA), which means they are pieces of land that the city plans to help restore and develop in the future.
"The Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority was established by the city of Sikeston about ten years ago. Their mission was to go into some area of our town that had above average areas of blight and condemned houses, burned down structures that had been left unattended and acquire these lots so that they could be cleaned up and redeveloped for later housing needs," Lancaster said.
However, in the meantime, the city has to maintain these lots. The city council decided on Monday that the price tag for contractors to do the work is too high. So, they rejected those bids.
In previous years, a youth program had maintained the lots but Lancaster says all the work has become too much for them to handle.
Now, city officials have found a solution that will keep this problem from growing into an even bigger one this summer.
"We are still working with the youth summer mowing program," Lancaster said. "We worked with them to establish the number of lots that were suitable for them and they're going to mow about 115 lots or the 300 some odd lots. We determined that the best thing, most cost-effective thing, for the city would be to hire some seasonal workers to help with the mowing."
Lancaster says the cost of the combination of the youth program and seasonal workers is about half as much as it would have cost to hire contractors. He says city officials hope to have hired some of those seasonal workers by next week.
In the meantime, Lancaster says other city employees are mowing the lots.
"Until we can get the seasonal staff, we've got some street department employees taking care of it, which is not the best scenario, but we are just doing what we have to do," Lancaster said.