Snow is cold, crisp and, most of all, costly to clean up.
Three massive snowstorms have hit the District this winter, costing the University hundreds of thousands of dollars in clean-up costs, far exceeding what the budget set out for snow removal, Executive Vice President and Treasurer Lou Katz said Tuesday.
“Clearly we went over the budget that we set out for snow,” Katz said, adding that the University will have to divert funds from other areas in order to make up for the unplanned snow removal costs.
Katz said each storm costs between $50,000 and $100,000 to clean up due to overtime labor costs for facilities crew members and the use of necessary equipment and supplies to clear sidewalks and pathways.
The Dec. 19 storm, which dumped 16 inches of snow on the nation’s capital, cost the University slightly more than $50,000 to clean up, Katz said. But that number pales in comparison to last weekend’s snow storm, which Katz estimates will cost closer to $100,000 overall in snow removal. And with the storm on Tuesday and Wednesday dumping another 10 inches of snow and ice on the District, Katz said the total cost for snow removal will skyrocket into the “hundreds of thousands of dollars” range.
Although the snow removal costs vastly exceeded expectations, Katz said the University has emergency funds available to divert toward the issue, adding that the budget shift will likely not be seen or felt by students.
“Obviously we have to do what we have to do to keep everything as clean and safe as we can, and we’ll just make other decisions accordingly throughout the fiscal year, so we’ll be fine overall,” Katz said. “We’re going to have to make some decisions because it is obviously costing money for this that we were not planning for, but there are good things and there are bad things that happen every year and there [are] contingencies in your budget and you just have to balance it out.”
Katz said the University has yet to decide where the diverted funds will come from, but provided an example of a likely source of cash.
“We have money in the budget each year to replace sidewalks,” Katz said. “There are things like that [in the budget] every year, and if you go too much over one thing what you may do is do a little less of something or not do it at all for that year. So there are always ways you can adjust the budget.”
He added that each snowstorm costs different amounts of money depending not only on the amount of snowfall, but on the weight and makeup of the snow totals. Heavier snow is harder to clean up, and warrants more time and manpower to remove, ultimately costing more money to clean up, Katz said.
“The December snow was easier to deal with than this even though we had close to a foot and a half of snow,” Katz said, noting that the snow this week has been heavier.
This article appeared in the February 12, 2010 issue of the Hatchet.