Jan 10, 2023 - News

Des Moines' tall grass isn't the county weed commissioner's problem anymore

Illustration of a lawn mower next to cut grass forming the shape of a sad face

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Des Moines will no longer receive no-cost service from the Polk County weed commissioner, city officials informed council members Monday.

Why it matters: It’s currently unknown how DSM will handle hundreds of annual complaints about tall grass.

  • 95% of the county's 1,700 tall grass complaints last year came from DSM, Chris Johansen, neighborhood services director, told the council.

Catch up quick: The weed commissioner is part of the county’s government tasked with identifying and eliminating noxious weeds.

  • Polk’s commissioner has for decades also responded to tall grass complaints made to city governments, even though it is not required to do so under Iowa law.

What’s happening: Starting this year, tall grass complaints made in incorporated areas will be the responsibility of that city, weed commissioner Bret Vandelune tells Axios.

  • It means Polk County will need to hire fewer seasonal workers and can focus instead on roadway projects, repairs and maintenance.

What to expect: City staffers will recommend grass policies for the council to consider and seek bids from mowing service companies in coming weeks.

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