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Evanston Has Spent 76% of Snow Removal Budget So Far This Year

First came the snow. Then more snow. Then came extreme cold, followed by rain and finally, potholes.

After two major snowstorms dumped a total of 26.5 inches of snow on Evanston, the city has spent more than three-quarters of its snow removal budget so far this year, according to public works director Suzette Robinson.

The storm that began on Dec. 31 and lasted until Jan. 2 left 14 inches of snow, and was followed by a second storm that left 12.5 inches of snow between Jan. 4 and 5, Robinson told city council members. City crews mobilized with round-the-clock snow removal operations, but the sheer volume of snow quickly racked up costs in terms of overtime pay and extra equipment rental.

"The quantity of snow we received during both snow events was not predicted to be as much as it was," Robinson said during a presentation on Monday. "This represents the second snowiest week when we compare it to the National Weather Service record."

Evanston's 26.5 inches of snow between Dec. 31 and Jan. 5 is 6.5 inches greater than the total snowfall during the blizzard of February 2011, according to Robinson. It's also 3 inches more than the average annual snowfall for Evanston.

During fiscal year 2010-11, the city spent $927,943 on snow removal, according to Robinson. That included $539,320 alone for the blizzard. In 2013, Evanston spent $715,917 on snow removal.

Already, the city has spent $519,972 of its $685,000 budget for snow removal, including $411,261 for the first two storms of January, Robinson said. 

Beyond simply the costs of extra crews and equipment, the city had to deal with a complex parking situation that Robinson said was unique compared to other suburbs and the city of Chicago. While other suburbs have plenty of off-street parking and can enforce residential parking prohibitions overnight, she said that's tough to do in Evanston. Meanwhile, Evanston residents still expect the streets to be clear all the way to the curb (not just to the line of parked cars, as is typical in Chicago.)

For that reason, she said, the city did its snow removal in stages, asking residents to voluntarily abide by even/odd snow parking restrictions, and opening up city garages to residents for free parking. 

Asking residents to move their cars on a voluntary basis was particularly important after the second snowstorm, when temperatures plummeted to 15 below.

"It really was too dangerous to be out in the early parts of the sub-zero temperatures," Robinson said. "We elected and thought that those who couldn't get out and move on a voluntary basis, we would plow around them."

As soon as the snow was cleared, another problem emerged: potholes. Robinson said city crews completed emergency pothole repairs along primary routes over the weekend, but were still working on other routes.


j January 16, 2014 at 10:17 PM
Someone forgot to tell Streets and San the boundaries of the city. They seem to think it ends at Dempster
IgnorantA January 17, 2014 at 09:20 AM
@Kenn, Just because we had a few milder type winters does not necessarily mean that the PW department had a surplus in the budget. FOI request might be able to resolve that, however, it is not out of the realm of possibilities that potential that monies were used to maintain plowing equipment or maybe even it was transferred into some other department or fund, if either one of these scenarios were used, to me it show fiscal responsibility and not any misuse of funds. In my opinion, if the department purchased something useless like a blimp or the department head, all of a sudden, is driving a new city purchased vehicle then we might be able to claim misuse. Till then, more information is needed.
Jordan S. Zoot January 17, 2014 at 09:29 AM
If there were to be a budget surplus with PW they could use it to purchase a couple of drones to provide the ability to watch the crime riddled areas around ETHS and the high school from the air. Being able to spot and attack the local thugs from the air would be a great benefit to the community. :P
IgnorantA January 17, 2014 at 10:02 AM
@Jordan, as of now FAA prohibits the use of drones in this manor. Currently there are only 6 "test" sites available and none of them are in IL.
Jordan S. Zoot January 17, 2014 at 11:01 AM
@IgnorantA....hopefully they can make an exception and provide it for EPD to test armed militarized drones like Predators and Reapers that actually carry Hellfire missiles with explosive warheads. My guess is after the second or third hoodrat thug was vaporized for carrying an illegal firearm in an alley the message might start to stick. Finally, rather than using the Cook County Coroner let Streets and Sanitation pick up the left over debris to make it more cost efficient.

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