DeKALB – City Manager Bill Nicklas has reinstated an outside contractor to help remove snow and ice from sidewalks and arterial roads in DeKalb after city crews struggled to complete the job after the recent polar vortex and freezing rain.
The city’s fiscal 2019 budget included a number of cost-cutting provisions as officials worked to close a $1.6 million budget hole. Included among them was to stop hiring a contractor to clear snow from the sidewalks and alleyways along Fourth Street, Sycamore Road, East and West Lincoln Highway and Annie Glidden Road.
Nicklas said he went to the city’s public works department after reading about residents’ concerns in the Daily Chronicle. He said the city had discontinued arterial roads and sidewalk snow removal with outside firm D. Ryan Tree and Landscape LLC, the fiscal 2019 budget, however, still allotted $10,000 for road maintenance assistance.
“[The Daily Chronicle] ran a couple [articles] on the snow, and I was reading that, and went to our guys and said ‘Let’s see how the weather is. If it continues like this, we could probably get through the winter with what we have left,’ ” Nicklas said.
Nicklas said the City Council was given a price of about $40,000 in November as part of the contract, and decided to remove $30,000 of that money to save money, meaning the contractor would not be used for sidewalk clean up.
“[Council] thought, ‘Well that’s a lot of money, we can’t afford to do that,’ ” Nicklas said.
Using the remaining $10,000, Nicklas said he’s doing what he can to stretch those funds and clear walkways that are directly affected by city crews plowing snow from main streets, such as Sycamore Road, Annie Glidden Road and Lincoln Highway.
“This isn’t the same as people in the subdivisions. We’re not going to plow their sidewalks,” Nicklas said. “But these are areas where, when the plows come through on these arterials, you could be out there doing a spotless job, and then within a half-hour, it’s [covered] again.”
Nicklas said the city will continue to use the contractor on an “as-needed” basis throughout the winter.