Cleaning up after the storm: City crews, snow removal services drop their plows

By WEEK Reporter

February 22, 2013 Updated Feb 22, 2013 at 11:34 PM CDT

CENTRAL ILLINOIS -- Thursday night's snowstorm dumped between 3 and 7 inches of the white stuff. Cities across the region worked around the clock to clear city streets while private companies plowed residential neighborhoods.

Ben Roberts of Greenview Landscaping has been hard at work clearing what's left of Thursday night's blanket of snow and he is one happy camper because the white means green for him, and his crew members, but the money doesn't come with just one snowfall.

"On a normal year with something that happened last (Thursday) night, may happen 4, 5, 6 times a month over December into January and February and even into March," said Roberts. "This time of year, really there's nothing our landscape crews can do so snow removal is really only one of the sources of revenue we have and that is very important to our business."

Speaking of revenue, because snowfall has been minor the past two years, that has put a financial strain on the business tightening their operating budget.

"It requires cutting a lot of labor that normally works in the winter, we can't obviously afford to pay people if we don't have any revenue, and we like to start our landscaping crews in early March and the snow removal money actually gives us money to start up going into Spring," added Roberts.

But for the public sector like the City of Peoria which is budgeted appropriately to plow residential areas including City streets, money isn't so much an issue as is manpower. The City contracts out 5 areas to be plowed requiring the City to collaborate with the private contractors.

"We can't just work these large accumulations when we begin plowing residential areas without them. In house, we have a number of check systems to check on their performance and also their progress and we've done this for a period of time and it really works well for us," said Peoria Street and Sewer Manager David Haste.

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