Snow Emergency Lifted, City Council Mulls Yard Waste Deal

Springfield’s snow emergency ended at 7 0′ clock Wednesday morning, following 65 hours of plowing, shoveling and salting.

The price tag for paying crews to work day and night to clear streets of 18 inches of snow is estimated between $50,000 and $75,000.

That’s a sizeable portion of Public Works Director Mark Mahoney’s $300,000 overtime budget for this year.

MAHONEY: “If we run short, we’ll have to look at adjusting some funds somewhere, cutting back in another area of our budget.  You know, obviously we have to clear the streets, we have to take care of the snow – and that’s at the direction of the Mayor and the City Council.  Never – at least to my knowledge – have we not found the funds to do that.”

Mahoney says crews responded to complaint calls from some residents whose streets were not plowed in a timely manner.  Many snow removal vehicles now use GPS locators, which Mahoney says continue to help his department track progress and shorten response time.

Now that roads are clear, the city turns its attention to its annual yard waste pick up program.

Director Mahoney Tuesday night asked aldermen to give preliminary approval of a contract with Evans Recycling of Springfield for disposal of tree branches and yard waste bags.

LISTEN to discussion on 3-yr. contract with Evans (incl. sale of used city equipment)

Evans was chosen from three bidders who responded, in part because the company agreed to buy a piece of city-owned machinery that turns branches into mulch.  Alderman Tim Griffin expressed concern that sale of the recently purchased equipment would result in a net loss for the city and asked if the Department had considered lease agreements instead.  Mahoney says that “for operations, for safety and for service to the public” selling the equipment and leaving yard waste and branch disposal to a private firm is the best deal:

MAHONEY: “There [are] many things, I believe, personally, that the private sector does a better job at.  They’re better at dealing with the mulch, getting rid of it.  We’ve tried to that… it’s an inconsistent market.”

Aldermen meeting in committee voted unanimously to put the ordinance – which would commit the city to a $978,000 contract over three years – on the debate agenda for the April 2 meeting of the City Council.

-Peter Gray

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