Blizzard could break the bank for suburbs

February 4, 2011 5:25:31 PM PST
The Blizzard of 2011 could be a budget-buster for the city of Chicago and the surrounding suburbs.

The cost of removing the snow is piling up and local governments are looking for ways to cut corners on the cleanup.

Some government officials are hoping for aid from the federal government, if President Barack Obama declares the city and suburbs a disaster area.

Day three of blizzard cleanup and crews are still hard at work moving snow.

With nearly two feet of it on the ground, it takes some time to get the streets cleared and with the crews on overtime, that is a costly proposition.

"This will take us pretty much right up to the edge of the budget, yeah, and this doesn't happen obviously very often. And to have people and we're still on 24 hours. And we will be through the weekend," said Mayor Larry Hartwig of Addison.

The blizzard of 2011 comes on the heels of the floods of 2010 and it's the same fiscal year budget for the small town of Westchester. They were hit hard by flooding in July and the snow removal costs have sent them dipping into the reserve fund to pay for the cleanup.

"There is certain contingencies you have, but trust me, if there were, we burned them up in the flood," said Mayor Sam Pulia of Westchester.

Elmhurst is fortunate to have a huge quarry to dump the snow into, but they still have to pay crews to pile it up and send it into the hole. This storm, however, has eaten up about half of the $500,000 budget for the entire season.

"Just like in your home budget, you have to reprioritize," said Elmhurst's City Manager Tom Borchert.

The snow removal budget in Joliet is $1.5 million, and about $450,000 has been used on the Blizzard of 2011.

Naperville officials say they have spend about $400,000 on snow removal for the blizzard; an average snow clean up costs the city only about $50,000.