Storms strain snow budget

After 42 inches of snow fell on southern Connecticut in January, Yale has already exceeded its annual allotted budget for snow removal.

Average January snowfall in southern Connecticut is only 8.5 inches, but the region was overwhelmed by several large storms in the past four weeks. Staff members interviewed from the Office of Facilities said they hope the weather will lighten up in February, but that Yale will find a way to remove snow regardless of its unbalanced budget.

“I’m sure we are exceeding our budget,” University President Richard Levin said. “I’ve been here for 40 years and in my memory this is the most snow we’ve had since 1978.”

Yale’s Office of Facilities works to ensure that this winter the snow is removed in a timely fashion.
Yale’s Office of Facilities works to ensure that this winter the snow is removed in a timely fashion.

Louis Annino, director of facilities operations, said he does not know how much Yale has spent on snow removal so far this year because the total costs are measured for the entire season. The 2010-’11 winter results will be finalized between mid-March and early April, he said.

Regardless of the University’s allotted budget, Annino said the University will do what it takes to ensure safe conditions exist across the Yale campus.

“I would say that there is relatively low or no risk in terms of our ability to remove the snow,” Annino said.

Earl Horton, purchasing manager for the Office of Facilities, said he does not know how large the allocated budget for snow removal is. Provost Peter Salovey and Deputy Provost Lloyd Suttle deferred comment about the budget to John Bollier, associate vice president for facilities. Bollier deferred to Annino.

Horton declined to provide information about the hourly wage Yale pays individual workers for snow removal, but said Yale’s current rates are “a pretty good deal” for the University.

The office hires workers to remove snow under two separate, competitively-bid contracts, Horton said, and pays hourly wages on each contract. One contract is for workers who plow parking lots and driveways, and the other contract for those who remove snow manually with shovels or snowblowers, Horton said.

These two contracts supplement the year-round work of ground maintenance workers who are hired through the Local 35 union, Annino said.

In both contracts — which are usually bid annually — workers are paid on an hourly basis, Horton said. He said the current rates were established in the 2009-’10 year and were renewed with individual contractors.

Costs for snow removal vary from year to year, Annino said, adding that he hopes February will be a lighter month to help balance the heavy snowfall in January.

“I think it’s safe to say we have had an unprecedented amount of snow for the month of January,” Annino said. “I hope February might be more forgiving.”

University administrators said they are satisfied by the job that snow removal crews have performed this season despite the severe weather. University Secretary Linda Lorimer said in a Jan. 27 e-mail to the News that she had only heard positive feedback from faculty members on campus.

“I can say that the only e-mails I have gotten in the last 24 hours or about the last storm were from faculty who offered compliments about the attention to clearing the sidewalks and parking lots,” Lorimer said.

As of Wednesday night, snow is forecasted for four of the next 10 days.

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