By Liz Collin

WCCO-TV’s Liz Collin Reports

BURNSVILLE (WCCO) — When plows clear streets, there are bound to be some mailbox casualties. The question now being considered in Burnsville is who should pay to fix or replace broken mailboxes — the city or the homeowner.

Last year, Burnsville spent almost $5,800 on mailboxes damaged during plowing. Crews replaced 38 mailboxes and repaired another 40 or so. That $5,800 is only replacement boxes and replacement materials. Labor costs were not included in the figure.

“We spend a ton of time. Our public works department spends a ton of time on mailboxes — on fixing them,” said Public Works Director Bud Osmundson during a City Council work session Tuesday.

Osmundson wants the City to follow a suggestion from its insurance provider, the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust.

“The League recommends that we’re not responsible,” said Osmundson, “That the city should not be responsible unless it’s hit by the plow.”

Making the switch would put Burnsville in line with the Minnesota Department of Transportation policy.

Some Burnsville homeowners think the city should pay for a damaged mailbox even if the plow doesn’t come in direct contact with the box.

“They should replace it,” said Lisa Stevens. “They need to be more careful.”

“I don’t think a lot of people know that the city would replace it,” said Karen Hatle.

Hatle and her husband have been straightening their mailbox post themselves when plows push too much snow too close to it. She figures her mailbox would cost around $100 to replace. Boxes in Burnsville run the gamut from plain to fancy.

“The nice ones, the bricked ones and stuff like that, those can get pretty pricey,” said Hatle.

The Burnsville City Council is expected to vote on the proposed change on Feb. 22.

Paula Engelking, Producer
Contact Paula

Comments (30)
  1. Elmo says:

    Nobody wants to be responsible for anything they do. Even the murders say “It wasn’t my fault, I had an unhappy childhood.” Why should the city be any different?

  2. RCM says:

    ELMO- You have a 30 foot street, the grader takes a 15 ft swath and is moving at 10mph. You are 2 feet from the mail box and the snow off the end of the wing has some force. You damage the mail box and you blame the City? Come and ride in a grader and see first hand how it works. By the way- Who is the City? It is you and I.

  3. Cassie says:

    I believe whomever knocks down the mailbox, should have to pay to fix it. I certainly wouldn’t get away with damaging property.

  4. Trina Martell says:

    Really? We’ve lived in Burnsville for 16 years. Every year the plow takes out our mailbox and we have NEVER charged the city for destroying it. It’s become the neighborhood joke…This year was a record, the plow snapped the 6 in. x 6 in. post in half AND catapulted the mailbox 20 feet into the neighbor’s yard. Maybe we should put it on a revolving pole…if the plow hits the mailbox it swings around and takes out their tail-light.

    1. Burnsville Bubba says:

      LMAO – my neighbor has done this. Problem is it swinds to slow as they cram so dang much snow around it the massive spring has to cut thru it all. One day he’ll get ’em.

  5. Paul B says:

    lol you people, whine whine whine, next you will be whining about the huge piles left in front of mailboxes because the city doesn’t clear the streets right, god im glad i live in the country, also any permanent structures example brick mortared mailboxes should be outlawed in town like they already do along state highways, all mailboxes should be swing aways .

    1. tmrt says:

      I agree. Most rural counties require swing away mailboxes. Makes sense to do it right and save everyone money.

  6. Easy Solution says:

    There’s a real easy solution – PUT THE MAILBOXES ON THE HOUSE, NOT THE STREET! Really, it was done this way for years and don’t see why with all the problems with street mounted mailboxes we can’t go back. Can’t the mail person get out of the car?

    1. tmrt says:

      You can’t be serious???? A mailperson can stop once and deliver 6 boxes at once in 10 seconds versus 5 minutes…..IN THE SUMMER….for six mailboxes at each house.

      1. Easy Solution says:

        tmrt I am serious????? The mailperson still delivers to each house in cities like Edina, Bloomington, Richfield, and St. Louis Park to name a few. And yes, they deliver mail in the winter ON DAYS LIKE TODAY—-WITH NO PROBLEMS. I don’t see the headline as saying ‘Problems delivering mail in Richfield today’. The people with your stupid mail tree in BURNSVILLE have the problem!!!!!!!! OBVIOUSLY IT DOESN’T WORK!!!!

  7. Unnamed says:

    Living in prior lake they just tske their sidewalk smoblowers @ 415 am and shoot ice at your windows above a six foot fence and damage. Who should be responsible?!? If you dis that at a city hall what would happen? We pay for that too. Bs!!!

  8. Dave says:

    I know one thing, if I take out a customer’s mailbox… I pay for it.
    Burnsville should not pay for it but Burnsville should make the driver pay for it… but not the citizen.
    What did the citizen do wrong?…and the citizen should pay for the mistake someone else made!!!
    Remember… Burnsville and its employees are there to work for the citizen (same as customer).
    Lately Burnsville sounds a lot like D.C…. only thinking about themselves.

  9. JKB says:

    I have a friend in Madison,WI., that gets paid his hourly wage PLUS time and a half just to build new mailbox stands, and mounts new boxes on each! He gets the day off to do this,with that kind of pay! This IS taxpayers money folks being wasted. If you and I buy the materials ourselves its a ton cheaper! Without doubt the plow drivers are at fault, but in the end were getting the shaft!. Someone most likely gets paid exhorbatant wages to replace our mailboxes as well. We cant be so stupid to think theyre being replaced FREE.

  10. Eric says:

    Make prisoners fix and dig mailbox holes.

  11. RCM says:

    I have a better idea, plow down the center of the road and everyone else plow the rest of the way to your mail box and in front of your own house. Problem solved.

  12. mark from says:

    We are regulated to put in our mail boxes a certain way by the USPS, now after we do that we have to pay because some over paid plow driver hits it? Rome is burning.

  13. tcn says:

    Welcome to home ownership. I am in Mounds View and not once in 15 years has my mailbox been damaged by a plow operator. Maybe the drivers need to be trained better. As for over paid. I do not want to get up at midnight or give up my time with family to plow some street i may never drive down.

  14. Juls says:

    When I lived in Wi the county plowed the road one day after 2 feet of snow fell. At the time I was shoveling the end of the driveway and all of a sudden a plow comes through the sheer force of the snow coming off the plow took the mailbox out. I live out in the country in Central MN and the mailbox swivels. So if something hits it it swings away. We replaced the box 2 years ago cause the bus driver kept backing into it plus it was old so it couldn’t take that kind of beating anymore anyways. I don’t think it would be smart to put stuff out there that is fancy. As for who should pay that should depend on the circumstances. If the plow blade did hit it then the city could give out inexpensive mailboxes. Or maybe everyone should compromise. If your box is destroyed they could handout coupons for half off the cost of a box, including the cheap ones.

  15. Nate says:

    Really??? Are we really that lazy as a society now. Try driving a plow for yourself. Think outside the box for a second. your mailbox sits right on the backside of the curb. What would happen if you were to install a METAL post in your yard about 4′ from the backside of the curb. Then have an angled METAL post extending out towards the curb(so your mailbox is still on the backside of the curb). The angled post will have to be a smaller outside diameter to fit inside the the other post. That way, when the plow comes by and say by chance he/she hits your mailbox, it will swivel. Oh and guess what, by doing this, you more than likely won’t have to shovel the snow around your mailbox for the mailman. The plow will be able to drive fast enough to remove the snow infront of your mailbox. All in 35 seconds, i solved your problem…..think people.

    1. cassie says:

      I think if we had METAL mailbox posts, and a plow hit it, we would be paying to fix the PLOW.

  16. Lee- in Richfield says:

    Okay people, Here’s the best solution. Let’s eliminate mail delivery all together. Everyone will have to pick up their mail at the Post Office. Then, we shall see how much whining goes on, and decide if a $100 once a year or two is too much to pay. Things cost money get over it.

    1. Craig says:

      Lets see if your opinion changes after every year you have replaced your mail box a few times. They dont just plow once a year, they plow multiple times a year, and this means multiple breaks to someones mail box. Its not the fact that this new rule is being made, its what it will cause down the road. Just watch and see plow drivers be less careful now, im sure that there was atleast some kind of control when it came to plowing knowing that damages would have to be paid out.

  17. Craig says:

    Interesting, if you look at the whole picture, it seems that all levels of government are pushing further and further away from any kind of responsibility at all. Pretty soon everything will be on our backs, we will have to pay out money to everything. Where do our taxes go? Seems to me they are only used to pay the salaries to these so-called leaders to just develop more rules and policies that invoke a monitary fine on the public.

  18. Dave says:

    I can’t believe this is even news worthy. We arfe talking 6000.00 per year. Most of the people who post here probably spend that on beer every year.

  19. Budda says:

    The plow jockeys are a bunch of hacks. And yes, the CITY should be fixing what THEIR EMPLOYEES break.

    1. Craig says:

      LOL…I agree, I have personally witness their extreme carelessness!

  20. EmmaSusan says:

    The plows that come down my streeet are going very fast and have no regards for mailboxes. They have taken mine out three times in 10 years. This last time I called the city and complained. They sent a check that barely covered absolute minimum supplies and sent me regulations for placement of mailbox. Drivers need to be held accountable and city needs to pay so that they can control these drivers.

  21. PaulP in Rochester says:

    I lost 3 last year. I watched each one happen – my lot is in a T and the majority of the snow ends up at my place – easier to push it up and wipe out my split rail fence every other year than move some to either side to my left-right. BTW – split rail is 16′ back so now they will be paying for it per their engineering dept.
    They have a fast and furious job yet 2 of the 3 times the drivers seemed to not give a ###. The other driver was careful and no problem. I’d send him a beer if I knew how to. lol
    The majority of the knock-outs maybe shouldn’t happen and I do think the city has an obligation. If not maybe I get to drive and smack their signs with my plow and have no responsibilty. Sloppy plowing IMO is the cause

  22. BeatnDowninMN says:

    lower my city taxes and I’ll pay. not – they owe as they destroyed

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