More than two-thirds of Downers Grove's budget for snow removal and related services has been spent as crews work to keep up with relentless winter temperatures and record snow falls.
Finance Director Judy Buttny told council members the village spent a little more than $438,000 on snow in January, nearly 70 percent of the fiscal year budget of $637,763. Costs for snow services come from the village's $43.6 million general fund.
The expense is more than double what village officials had expected to spend by this point of the year and more than five times what the village spent in January 2013, when officials were enjoying a relatively light winter season, Buttny said. Just five weeks into the year, the village already has logged more than 33 inches of snow in 24 separate snow events, officials said.
It was not immediately clear, however, how much overtime has figured into this year's costs.
Buttny cautioned against sounding the alarm, however, pointing out that the snow budget only is a small portion of the general fund.
"Although this is a high-profile service, there are many other services in the general fund," Buttny said. "We try to manage to a bottom line of the general fund. Of course, we will continue to monitor all budgets through the year."
In addition, some village equipment is on the fritz from so much use during the season. Village Manager David Fieldman said the Public Works crews have driven about 60,000 miles in snow routes since Dec. 1.
"We did have a couple of pieces of equipment go down," Fieldman said. "The wear and tear has been noticeable."
Many other nearby towns have been running out of road salt, but Downers Grove benefited from having 2,200 tons left over from last season. That stockpile since has depleted and the village has had to order more supply from the state. A few hundred tons remained on hand at the end of January.
"This is always an ongoing challenge," Fieldman said. "There's a regional salt supply issue. We do everything within our power to maintain relationships with the suppliers, we do everything we can to order as much as we can as fast as we can. Because of that, we've only had one or two days when we've gone in conservation mode."