The hope of Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz to avoid the major cost of dealing with the snow came to a tumultuous end today with the third heavy snowstorm in ten days. The public safety issues and the economic impact of the impassable streets must be addressed.
We know that the city was hoping to carry over $4.5 million from 2007 to 2008 in order to balance next year's operating budget. Well. it is just not going to happen. The budget has taken a hit for three major plowings and one minimal clean up.
Now the city must do an additional city wide clean up and follow that with a major effort downtown. That is going to involve going street by street, removing all vehicles, plowing from curb to curb and then removing most of the snow.
The problem is compounded with the unrealistic expectation that the city could not only ignore purchasing new plowing equipment, but that it could reduce the number of available vehicles for plowing. No additional equipment was added in the last seven years. That occurred when the city installed the new cart collection equipment. The old trucks could handle a plow blade; the new trucks are too delicate and sensitive to plow.
That raises another interesting point: take a look at Gilman Street. Even if the garbage trucks could get though, there is no place for the residents to place their carts.
The hit may be upwards of $1.2 million. City leaders have all of next year to figure out how to solve the fiscal crunch. Now is the time to face the reality of these successive storms.
Update 9:16 am: This from the morning Wisconsin State Journal: Snow removal budget is out the window
Streets Division spokesman George Dreckmann...said, Madison's snow-removal crews will have gone through the additional $625,000 the City Council approved a week ago to cover costs from cleanup efforts earlier this year and this month — and then some.
Each storm costs the city about $300,000, Dreckmann said.
Did you ever wonder why more often than not, it is spokesman who always speaks for the city and not the mayor?