Public Works gives first approval to review of Kenosha snow removal policies

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KENOSHA ⏤ The city’s Public Works Committee moved a resolution forward Monday night calling for a review and potential overhaul of snow removal policies on city streets.

The resolution, principally sponsored by Dist. 17 Ald. David Bogdala, calls for immediate changes ⏤ particularly to salting policies ⏤ as well as a longterm review of current practices.

Alderpersons on the committee voted unanimously to support Bogdala’s resolution Monday night. The City Council will give final approval to the resolution.

Currently, the city utilizes snow removal methods and policies last overhauled in 2016.

“The last major change/review was in 2016,” Bogdala said. “For those of you who were around back then, you know there were a number of things I would have liked to have done back in ‘16. 

“… We took care of some of the big things, and I was proud of that. It is better than what it was prior to 2016. But there’s still a lot of room for improvement.”

Resolution language

The resolution ⏤ co-sponsored by alderpersons Mitchell Pedersen, Rocco LaMacchia, Dominic Ruffalo, Jack Rose, Curt Wilson and Jan Michalski ⏤ calls for city crews to salt all streets, not the current “as many streets as possible” in policy.

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“Regarding the ‘Salting standards’ is changed to ‘all city streets during any snow fall over 4 inches, when road conditions become ‘hard-packed’, or when temperatures fall or will fall creating unsafe road conditions,” Bogdala’s proposed resolution states.

‘Sorely needed’

For the Dist. 17 alderman, the city desperately needs to overhaul its current policy. This need became more apparent after the last major snowfall in the city.

“This is not a new phenomenon when we look at how it’s happening,” he said. “I’m still getting or still have gotten some people who still are expressing their displeasure in terms of how that was handled. 

“Again, there were decisions made that I feel ⏤ I don’t care what anybody says ⏤ were wrong, and we need to understand why those decisions were made and make sure that won’t happen again.”

He also reminded city officials that all of the residents in the city pay the same taxes. Thus, they deserve the same level of service.

“I’m asking for this; I think it’s sorely needed,” he added. “We need to do a better job of ensuring that all of our constituents who pay the same amount of taxes whether they live on a green street, a red street or a no-color street.

“They all pay the same level of taxes; they don’t get a discount just because there isn’t a color associated with their street.”

Not just big snow events

However, it’s not just the big snow events that call for an overhaul, he said. 

It’s the little bits of snowfall that aren’t dealt with that exacerbate certain problems.

“So you have snow events where you have these multiple little tiny snow events,” he said. “Cars are driving on them. We’re not salting them. We’re not plowing them. … And in particular this really impacts some of the newer areas ⏤ not just on the west side but on the north side as well ⏤ where we have these long, curved streets that don’t get salted and, next thing you know, we have an ice rink. 

“And that’s just not safe. So we need to address that.” 

Further review by city administrator

In its second half, Bogdala’s resolution calls for a further review of snow removal policies. City Administrator John Morrissey would lead that review, which will come from the mayor’s office.

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The parameters of the review are:

  • To determine if the City of Kenosha has both an adequate number of snow clearing vehicles;
  • To determine if the safety of the fleet is safe for employees during snow plowing operations;
  • And recommend additional Snow Policy improvements designed to ensure all city streets, regardless of designation, are being properly cleared during all snow events.

Monday night, Bogdala put his complete confidence in Morrissey’s ability to perform the review. 

I’m counting on the administrator to complete that review,” Bogdala said. “I have all the confidence in the world that he will do that.”

Findings presented by Aug. 30, 2021

However, Bogdala changed the date Morrissey would present the review’s findings to the committee during Monday’s meeting.

In the original resolution language, Morrissey would present his review to the committee on March 30, 2021. 

However, Bogdala and Morrissey have determined it will take more time.

We’re going to need a little more time to get all the information I think we need,” Bogdala said. “Particularly, on the fleet side, there’s a whole variety of things surrounding that. But I have talked to the city administrator, and I’m going to be proposing a new date, which is going to be August 30 of 2021.”

Furthermore, the mayor’s approved 2022-2027 Capital Improvement Plan will include any additional equipment recommended after the review, the proposed resolution states.

It is for this reason that Bogdala wants all of the details to be presented before the fall and winter months, and before the next round of budget discussions. 

Because there could be, as a result of this, and I expect there’s going to be, some budget implications that we just need to take into account when we get ready for that next snow fall event,” he said.

Alderpersons support resolution

Bogdala’s resolution gained support from his colleagues Monday night. 

Ruffalo had told the full Council that he had “only complaints” on the city’s snow plowing methods during its last meeting. On Monday, he doubled down on his criticisms, stating that the city needs to re-evaluate its processes. 

“If nothing changes, nothing changes,” he said. “We definitely need some changes.”

 “We need to do something. This is a really good start.”

‘Better decision-making now’ on snow removal

Ald. Bruce Fox, while supporting Bogdala’s resolution, also pointed out the issue of cars not being ticketed for parking on the street during a snow emergency. Ald. Rollin Pizzala made the same kind of comments during the full council’s last meeting. 

“There are a lot of cars covered in snow with no tickets after a snow emergency,” Fox said. 

Before the final vote at the committee meeting, Bogdala also reminded his colleagues that, while the review may aid next year’s efforts, there is still much time left in this year’s winter season.

“It’s only Feb. 8,” he said. “We’ve got possibly another two months of snow.”

“There needs to be better decision-making now.”

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