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Madison Always Has Winter Storms……Right? So Lets Budget Honestly For Winter

December 12, 2009

I have never understood over the many years the argument by the City of Madison about not having budgeted enough for snow removal.  Madison remains in south central Wisconsin, and winter happens every single year.  Trust me, you can count on it.  Granted there are variations in severe winters and the amount of snow that falls.  But good gracious how can under-estimating year after year our snowfalls and city funds need to deal with the storms not lead someone in city government to think that perhaps placing  REAL ‘seed’ money into the snow removal fund might be a great idea?   After this week most residents understand the need for such funds to be available.

The midweek storm that blasted Madison with 14.1 inches of snow could cost the city up to $700,000 and exhaust the snow and ice removal budget for the year, officials said Thursday.

The city can cover the cost of clearing snow that fell Tuesday and Wednesday in the 2009 budget, but another big storm or two before the end of the year could force officials to tap reserves.

Streets Division Superintendent Al Schumacher, making a rough estimate, said overtime, night pay, double time and other cleanup costs could reach $500,000, and that the city might spend another $200,000 on private contractors to more quickly clear bus stops and remove snow from street medians.

The city budgets for five snowstorms at $300,000 apiece and 30 smaller events annually – the average for the past 20 years. The Streets Division has a total snow and ice control budget of $5.28 million for 2009.

The Streets Division already has a $1 million deficit – caused by a $1.2 million shortfall in recycling revenues – in its $22.2 million budget for 2009.

That means more big storms would like force the city to tap it’s $29.6 million “rainy day fund.”

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