PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — As city trees get older, and as their roots shift, they can do significant damage to your sidewalk.
Now a Pittsburgh City Councilman wants to streamline the process of reimbursement.READ MORE: Butler County Community College Closes For 2 Days Due To Ransomware Attack
“This is the sausage-making of government,” said City Councilman Dan Gilman. “This is what people expect of their local government. Right now, city residents who have damage to their sidewalks by a city tree file a claim that goes from Law Department to Public Works, from Public works back to Law Department, Law Department to Budget, Budget to City Council. It’s ridiculous, and all of this time they’ve already spent their money and they’re waiting on reimbursement.”
For example, on Tuesday, Council approved a $7,000 payment to a property owner on Beacon Street in Squirrel Hill for damage to his sewer lateral and trap from city tree roots.
Council also approved a $3,400 payment to a property owner on Hampton Street in Highland Park for sidewalk damage from city tree roots.
Beyond city costs, the homeowner bears the responsibility to get the work done on sidewalks owned by the property owner and wait for city reimbursement.READ MORE: North Allegheny, Mt. Lebanon Among Highest-Ranked Schools In The Area
But given the process, that wait could take months.
Councilman Gilman proposes a law that cuts out the City Council element of the process, hoping to get the property owner’s money back sooner.
“By cutting City Council out of the equation, and just letting our lawyers handle this, we can save taxpayers probably about two months on their reimbursement timeline,” he said. “And in my 12 years in Council, I have never seen City Council a single time reject one of these claims. I mean, it’s money that is legitimately and legally owed to these residents. It’s just bureaucracy and red tape getting in the way.”MORE NEWS: Jewish Communities Around Greater Pittsburgh Come Together To Celebrate Hanukkah
City Council should begin to consider Councilman Gilman’s bill within the next week.