DPW asks for $7 million for snow removal

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(INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (April 15, 2014)–

The Indianapolis Department of Public Works asked the City-County Council Monday night for $7 million to make up for overspending on snow fighting efforts this past winter.

Record amounts of snowfall during the winter months forced DPW crews to work multiple round-the-clock shifts and drop record amounts of road salt. The months-long snow battle came with a high price, which left the department spending more than double its $7 million budget for snow removal.

“In a typical winter season we usually spend 3 to 5 million dollars,” said DPW spokesperson Stephanie Wilson. “This winter we spent 14.5 million dollars.”

Wilson said the overspending was necessary for public safety during the unusually rough season.

“Not plowing the snow wasn’t an option,” she said. “Not salting the streets wasn’t an option. We threw every resource we had to keep the streets as clear as we possibly could, and we’re facing the fiscal consequences of that now.”

A proposed ordinance being introduced Monday night by Democrat Majority Leader Vernon Brown would move $7 million from the city’s Transportation General Fund, which is where DPW’s budget comes from.

Without the move, Wilson said DPW would have to balance its budget by pulling money away from scheduled construction projects.

“Essential bridge projects, street projects, projects that we’ve promised to people in a lot of different neighborhoods throughout Indianapolis, that we already have contracts for,” Wilson said.

The proposal comes after the council recently tabled a plan for $8 million for emergency road repairs. That discussion ended with heated debate over how the money would be divided among city districts.

Wilson hopes the new proposal, which is not project-specific and would not divide money among districts, will be a safer political discussion.

“No one can really say what’s going to happen when this comes before the council, but I don’t think anyone can deny the serious need after this winter,” she said.

The proposed ordinance come before the council for discussion as early as May 1.

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