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The Costs Of Frequent Snow Emergencies

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Starting Tuesday night, snow emergencies started in both Minneapolis and St. Paul. WCCO-TV chief meteorologist Chris Shaffer says we’re nearly six inches below average for snow this season, but the snow we are getting has come in bursts.

We looked at how cities are handling the cost of snow removal that gets picked up by taxpayers.

We found Otto Knudsen Tuesday trying to start his grandmother’s car in Uptown. He says snow emergencies aren’t too big of a hassle as long as he can park on a side street early.

His neighbor Meredith Pearson said it’s pretty standard stuff.

“It’s just a part of living in Minnesota, you know,” she said. “You get used to it.”

Used to it or not, Knudsen had to pull his car out of a snow route before the city does.

Mike Kennedy with the city of Minneapolis says they want to have an empty impound lot.

“We’re not in the business of towing cars,” he said.

He says towing people slows them down and costs them big, as they have to pay out to towing contractors and the streets take longer to plow. But that’s something the city may have to do.

“We’re on our third snow emergency of this winter, which is on the high side of average,” Kennedy said.

Minneapolis allots for fewer than snow emergencies a season. The city is all good now, but if this keeps up, they may have to ask for extra funding.

“We’ll, we’ll keep plowing, we’ll go to the city council, go to the mayor, tell them what we think we need to do, where we are at,” Kennedy said.

St. Paul says despite the four emergencies they’ve declared, they are on budget for now.

And in smaller cities like Richfield, Mike Eastling, who is with the city, says that if there’s not a huge snowfall clean-up is not too big a deal.

“It might take 5, 6 hours, and we can get the whole city done,” he said.

And if it gets nasty?

“We give our operators an option of having time off or paid overtime, and many of them take the time off and so it doesn’t affect the budget,” he said.

In the end, when it comes to snow, it seems we all have the same goal: to get out from underneath it.

TIP: If you live in the city of Minneapolis, you can get a snow emergency text message sent. Click here for more.

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