GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The 72 inches of snowfall in Grand Rapids this winter is breaking the budget, according to Mayor George Heartwell.
“We will undoubtedly, before this winter is over, have to tap into the contingent account,” Heartwell said.
He said it’s an “expensive winter” and as much as a half-million dollars is expected to be used from a contingency fund. The allotted snow removal budget is already depleted.
Charlie Stoepker has been plowing snow for the city of Grand Rapids for 12 years.
“It’s been plenty busy, lots of snow,” Stoepker said.
He said he enjoys his job, but there is at least one frustration.
“They’re probably four foot from the curb to begin with,” Stoepker pointed out two cars parked across from each other on the street.
“The fire truck can’t get [through] there, but if it wasn’t for these two vehicles on this whole stretch, we could clear this road right out for them,” he explained.
One of the two vehicle owners failed to obey the odd-even parking ordinance which allows Stoepker to maneuver and plow the streets.
However, some are just too narrow to drive down. Stoepker is forced to back his truck up.
He’s among the workers putting in overtime, working as many as 12 hours a day.
He explained, “It adds up quick. Takes a toll on you.”
According to Grand Rapids public services department, about $2 million is budgeted for supplies and overtime pay. That amount has been reached.
Also, $1 million is budgeted for salt. That threshold has also been reached.
Stoepker said he thinks about the numbers from time to time.
“Obviously it’s something that’s going to interfere with what we do in the summer. We have roads to maintain, and we all know that there’s plenty of potholes out there. I just hope it doesn’t interfere with any of our asphalt work or street maintenance stuff,” Stoepker said.