February 15, 2011

Cornell Says Facilities Services Spent $500K on Snow Removal So Far

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Cornell Facilities Services has spent more than $500,000 on snow removal this year, but it remains well within budget, according to Kyu Whang, vice president of Facilities Services.

“Typically, we run in a normal year around $800,000 in an entire season,” Pete Salino, director of grounds, said.

According to Whang, the winter budget includes salary for full-time staff, seasonal wages, vehicle maintenance, rentals and the cost of salt. Whether the University goes over budget for snow removal is logically decided by how much snow has been received.

“We’re running about 40 or 42 inches of snow and we typically get about 69 inches, so we’re right about where we should be with snowfall,” Salino said.

According to Salino, the amount of money spent is largely determined by how many overtime hours workers clock and how many “contract assistants are needed to help with plowing.”

These two factors come into play during large storms.

Though Cornell has had its fair share of bad weather lately, Salino said Cornell has not gone over budget since 1993.

“The blizzard of ’93 was a good one. We were well over $1 million in snow removal at that time,” Salino recalled. “It [the blizzard] was a real benchmark.”

If the University does go over budget, all is not lost. According to Salino, Cornell has a safety net in place, funneled through facility services that can be released if the snow removal team ever runs into any “fiscal problems.”

The Cornell snow removal team has a large job on their hands — they are responsible of maintaining 100 acres of parking lots, 61 miles of sidewalks, two acres of landings, and 3800 steps.

Though the parking lots and sidewalks can be cleared using tractors and plows, the landings and steps are all shoveled by hand, Salino added.

If heavy snow is predicted, the snow crew will start at 5 a.m., with “24 full time people responsible exclusively for shoveling steps and walks,” Salino said.

The amount of money and time spent on snow removal is all up to “mother nature,” Salino said.

Original Author: Shane Dunau