A good way to ensure adequate staffing is to cross train your employees in public works to take care of trees. City arborists should be certified. Work plans should indicate how the jobs will be accomplished. There are several possibilities depending on each municipality’s situation and preference for getting work done. A few options include the use of in-house (city or county) crews, outside contracts, volunteer or contractual labor, or any combination of these.
The decision on whether to use municipal workers and equipment or contractors, or both, to perform community forestry activities depends on many variables. Following are some of the more common ones:
- The size of the municipality and its urban forest dictate, to a degree, the community’s degree of flexibility in the mix of resources used. Larger municipalities have a portion of their work done by in-house crews because it assures that crews are available for emergencies and provides for more flexibility,
- Local policies and regulations relating to municipal work forces and purchasing and contracting for services may determine use of in-house resources instead of contracting.
- Cost effectiveness of in-house services is certainly a consideration. Some activities may be done more effectively by contractors. While this may not be the overriding factor, it should be part of the overall consideration.
- Periodic or seasonal characteristics of some jobs may lend themselves to contracted services, and this may appeal to some decision makers. Because there is no long-term commitment in financing contract operations, as opposed to establishing a municipal work force and purchasing equipment, funds for the use of contractor services may be easier to secure for certain activities.
- Employees involved in urban forestry should have accompanying job descriptions and employers should provide ample training and development opportunities.