The downtown Public Improvement District board voted Monday to triple down on landscape maintenance.
For a trial period of Oct. 15 to Jan. 15, the PID will pay Lawns Ltd. an extra $20,000 for services such as more frequent power washing and leaf blowing of sidewalks, as well as more regular emptying of trash cans.
In the next year, the board expects to rebid its maintenance contract and triple its annual maintenance budget to $126,000.
PID board chairman Steve Cates said the funding surge reflects a newfound popularity of downtown — and the PID’s newfound resources to spruce it up.
The PID funds downtown services through an extra 10 cents per $100 property surtax, and this year’s revaluation of downtown property values is expected to raise annual revenues from $320,000 to $450,000.
“We now want to leverage those funds to enhance the viability of downtown even beyond what we’ve done,” said Cates, CEO of Texas Life Insurance.
The PID also approved a 90-day contract extension with Centurion Security to provide an additional 40 hours a week of security services during the same period.
Currently, Lawns Ltd. gets $39,000 a year, which covers a general cleanup through the downtown district each month, with two cleanings in high-traffic areas, such as University Parks Drive; Fourth and Fifth streets; and Washington, Austin, Franklin and Mary avenues.
Under the enhanced contract, the high-traffic areas will get weekly service, and a full-time employee on a street-legal cart would work in the downtown area daily.
The worker will blow leaves on Austin Avenue at least weekly, with daily service during peak leaf-drop season.
The worker also will empty trash carts, pick up litter, clean alleys and water planters.
Because the new services represent a major contract change, the PID board will rebid the maintenance contract in early 2016, and Lawns Ltd. will be welcome to bid, officials said.
Jim Clifton, who heads the PID board’s design and service delivery committee, said the enhanced maintenance should improve downtown’s curb appeal, but further steps are needed.
He said downtown’s alley trash bins are served by several different commercial haulers, and it’s difficult to establish responsibility for trash piled around the bins.
“You get a lot of finger pointing,” he said.
Clifton suggested choosing a single hauler for downtown trash, either by a city rule or incentives.
Cates said city code enforcement also could help reduce the nuisance caused by bird droppings downtown. He said the city needs an ordinance requiring the owners of vacant buildings to seal their upper-story windows to prevent birds from roosting inside.
The PID board approved sending a letter to City Manager Dale Fisseler asking the city to work with the board on the alley bin and bird roost issues.