City of Madison expects to exceed budget for snow removal

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MADISON (WKOW) — The piles of snow along city streets and sidewalks aren’t the only things rising — so is the cost to the City of Madison.

From city plows clearing the roads to digging out of your driveway on your own, Madison has had its fair share of snow in 2019.

“We’ve got crews out there working very hard to make sure the streets are cleared for our residents,” said David Schmiedicke, Madison’s finance director.

This is the third snowiest start to a year on record in Wisconsin. The back to back winter storms are costing the city and will likely exceed the budget set aside for snow removal operations.

“I think we’ve had a pretty intense number of events,” said Schmiedicke. “We will be over budget by about $900,000.”

That number could grow higher with every snow event that happens in the future this year.

The City of Madison sets aside $6.2 million for snow removal operations every year, according to Schmiedicke. He said that would cover five and a half snow storms per year.

However, barely two months into 2019, the city has already spent nearly half that amount: $2.8 million.

“That includes staff out there operating vehicles. Those vehicles have to be repaired by other staff and we have to augment what we have with city assets with private companies so we can clear streets,” said Schmiedicke.

He expects the city to spend at least another $5 million to clear the snow this year. Although we could see the snow stop in the spring, he’s also worried about November and December.

“I think at this point it’s manageable. But it depends on what happens through the rest of the year,” said Schmiedicke.

Mother Nature may make the ultimate decision, but with every storm that dumps about five inches of snow, it costs Madison roughly $230,000, according to Schmiedicke.

The city will take money from a reserve fund to cover the extra cost, according to Schmiedicke. The reserve fund currently has a balance of $1.9 million. He doesn’t predict the city should need that much, but if it happened another reserve fund would be tapped.

“If the pace of the storms continues, then we may have to look at other options,” he said.

The City of Madison used to budget for 7 snow storms per year, but now, it budgets for 5.5, according to Schmiedicke. He said that’s because, on average, the number of big storms we experience per year has decreased.

As of February 22nd, Madison has already passed the 5.5 snow storms that are budgeted for.

Hunter Sáenz

Hunter Sáenz

Reporter, WKOW

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