Snow removal budget exceeded

The City of Eau Claire has exceeded its 2019 budget

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Miles Plueger

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Snow removal budget exceeded

The city of Eau Claire has gone over its budget allotted for annual snow removal for 2019.

The city of Eau Claire has gone over its budget allotted for annual snow removal for 2019.

Photo by Anya Yurkonis

The city of Eau Claire has gone over its budget allotted for annual snow removal for 2019.

Photo by Anya Yurkonis

Photo by Anya Yurkonis

The city of Eau Claire has gone over its budget allotted for annual snow removal for 2019.

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The city of Eau Claire is about $36,000 over its budget allotted for annual snow removal, Jay Winzez, Eau Claire director of finance, said.

Snowfall impacts everyone: students, faculty and the entire community and their abilities to commute from place to place. But just because they have exceeded their spending limits does not mean that snow removal will cease to take place, Winzez said.

This news had some students concerned. Kelsey Conway, a third-year psychology student, said she was alarmed.

“Are they spending it on salt or sand to put on the roads, or is that the cost of the snow plows?” Conway said.

The city allocates $800,000 to the renting of equipment, salting, gas for plows, etc., Winzez said. The rest goes to pay the workers for doing their jobs.

The extra money added to their $1.8 million budget comes from city council, Winzez said.

According to Winzez, snow removal is a program built within the community services budget, which has not been exceeded. Any time the allotted snow removal budget goes over, they dip into the community services funds.

This creates a secondary problem, however.

Winzez said that when more crews are working at removing snow, they are spending less time and money on other programs within the community services budget.

The reason for this extra $36,000 actually has almost nothing to do with the snow we have received this fall, Winzez said. According to an article on wpr.org, it can be linked back to February 2019, when Eau Claire received a record-breaking 53.7 inches that month.

“It seemed like every other day we were getting a plowable snow,” Winzez said.

Ensuring that this situation doesn’t happen again isn’t black or white. The city budgets on averages, Winzez said, and they don’t budget for the most extreme or the most fair conditions.

“We’re going to provide the same level of service the rest of the month of November and December as we did in last January and February,” Winzez said.

For some students, this level of service may not be enough. Evan Flanagan, a second-year business and finance marketing student, said that from his assessment of snow removal during spring semester of 2019, he is worried about the state of streets and sidewalks that staff and students depend on.

“There were so many occasions last semester alone that professors had to cancel class because of dangerous conditions,” Flanagan said.

As far as the how these students feel about the budget itself, Conway and Flanagan said that they think it is fair the way it is divided.

“The employees are getting paid to do a job that I’m sure isn’t fun,” said Conway.

Although, Flanagan said that the budget may need some reworking or expanding in order to keep up with large amounts of snowfall.

Plueger can be reached at [email protected]

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