Columbia's leftover snow-removal money subject of town hall meetings

Wednesday, February 29, 2012 | 8:50 p.m. CST; updated 9:22 a.m. CST, Friday, March 9, 2012

COLUMBIA — The Public Works Department expects an estimated surplus of $400,000 this year, and it wants advice from the public about how to spend it.

The department will hold a series of town hall meetings beginning next Wednesday to give the public a chance to weigh in on what it wants done in terms of street repairs and maintenance.

To date, the city has spent only about $80,000 of the $480,000 budgeted for snow removal this winter. Columbia has received just 6.6 inches of snow this season, according to the National Weather Service. The average is 16.6 inches. By Feb. 28, 2011, the city had seen 45.6 inches of snow.

Jill Stedem, spokeswoman for the Public Works Department, said the town hall meetings would allow the department to get input from residents in order to "maximize street improvements through the whole city, not just in one particular area."

City officials are optimistic the strategy will yield good results.

"I think the public is definitely going to feel good about being consulted," Fifth Ward Councilwoman Helen Anthony said. "So I think that good will can only improve relations between the city and constituents."

Anthony said the surplus is only for this year. She also said that the street department needs a lot more than an extra $400,000 and that the money will be spent quickly.

Stedem said the city's budget for fiscal year 2012 includes $1.7 million for street maintenance, which won't go far. The city has 500 miles of roadway to take care of.

Times and dates for the town hall meetings are:

To date, no town hall meeting for the Second Ward has been scheduled.

Those who can't attend one of the ward meetings can email their input to the Public Works Department at

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Mark Foecking March 1, 2012 | 12:05 p.m.

Can they just save it for next year? If we have a lot of snow next winter, then they won't have the problems they did last year with having to scramble for funding.


(Report Comment)
John Schultz March 1, 2012 | 1:08 p.m.

Or should the surplus go to another city department for the remainder of the fiscal year?

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith March 1, 2012 | 2:49 p.m.

John & Mark:

I fear you two are sadly out of touch. This is the United States of America, where we spend money as soon as we have it and where increasingly we spend money which we don't even have and may never have.

I have some knowledge of you both; therefore, I am not worried about you. Otherwise, I might think that with your attitudes you could be dangerous.

Use it up
Wear it out
Make it do
Or do without

How things were 80 years ago in America. We've come a long way since then, but has it been in the correct direction?

(Report Comment)
Allyson Wilson March 2, 2012 | 11:30 a.m.

Hi, this is Allyson Wilson, the reporter for this story.

I intend to pursue the answer to both Mark and John's questions.

Thank you for the input, I greatly appreciate it.

(Report Comment)
Bob Hill March 15, 2012 | 9:30 a.m.

I say 1) keep surplus for next year ... plan ahead 2) fix some roads that were damaged by last year's bad winter or 3) give the money back to the taxpayers.

What shouldn't be done is to fund something totally unrelated to roads or to start or fund another project that cannot sustain itself beyond these funds.

My concern is that they'll use the money to fund something new and then people will cry "foul" next year when there are no funds available. And then HELLO, we need MORE money because we cannot live without this new item/service/etc...

Entitlements live on in perpetuity (sp?).

(Report Comment)

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