Snowy weather leads to rising costs for city


A DeKalb city snowplow clears snow and spreads salt along Lincoln Highway near the DeKalb Police station Wednesday after heavy snowfall.

By Lark Lewis

Bad weather may be more than just an inconvenience; time, work and money goes into making sure the city runs in times of heavy snow and ice.

According to news channel KFVS, Illinois spent $12.3 million on labor, equipment and road salt for the bad weather that hit Illinois at the beginning of January.

While DeKalb’s weather-related needs are on a smaller scale than the state’s, a lot of work goes into making sure everyone gets to work safely and on time.

“We want to make sure you can get to work,” said Public Works Director T.J. Moore. “It may be difficult, but you will be able to get to work.”

Moore said getting through DeKalb’s “snow days” involves two main components: plowing and salt.

“…If we can push snow off and use salt, we won’t have to plow later,” Moore said. “Salt delivers haven’t been as readily available and we’re having to use more people and trucks.”

Because of the extra use, many of the trucks and equipment have had breakdowns and needed repair, which is an added cost that hasn’t been an issue in the past. Besides regular labor costs, much of this season’s snow has fallen on weekends and holidays, when it is more expensive to employ people.

“We’ve responded to about 26 different [weather] events this year [as] opposed to our usual 15 or 16 this time of year,” said Mark Espy, assistant director of Public Works.

Even with city staff working hard to make the roads usable, accidents still happen, which can cause problems for more than just those directly involved.

“If [an accident] is on a busy road like Sycamore Road, we have to focus on the flow of traffic around the crash and keeping everyone else around it safe,” said DeKalb Police Cmdr. John Petragallo.

Physically, the weather also causes significant damage to roadways, another added inconvenience.

“The repetitive nature of the freeze and thaw is slowly starting to make potholes appear a little bit sooner than we’d normally see,” Espy said.