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Snow budget pushed to limit

By Julia Werth
On February 20, 2014

  • Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy looks into his teleprompter as he delivers his 2014 State of the State address in front of a joint session of the legislature in the House Chambers at the Capitol in Hartford, Conn., Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014. Last year Malloy annouced a $1.5 billion initiative to take UConn and Conn. to the next generation. AP

In an average winter, UConn's Facilities Operations spends between $800,000 and $1 million on contracted plowing companies, ice melts and the overtime salaries of employees. This winter's weekly storms have already pushed UConn's Facilities Operations to its limit, and February is not over yet.
The money that UConn uses to pay for all the essentials of snow cleanup and removal comes from the Department of Facilities Operations' total budget for all building repairs during the year.
"We are right on the budget now, if we have another big storm it will stretch into other areas," said the Associate Vice President of Facilities Operations and Building Services Michael Jednak.
This could mean that if February or March brings another long duration storm to UConn's campus, money for building repairs and maintenance could be short come spring.
"It's been a tough winter for a very good crew," said Jednak. "They are hardworking and dedicated despite the many long duration storms."
Although there is no such thing as a typical winter storm, the Facilities Operations crew has the preparation and cleanup down to a "well-orchestrated process," according to Jednak.
When a storm is predicted the crew, typically 100 people per storm, will come in early to start preemptive salting, work the duration of the storm doing their best to keep the roads and walkways clear and then stay for 4-5 hours after it has finished snowing to completely clean up.
"The first priority is always safety," said Jednak.
The roads, fire hydrants and emergency exits are always taken care of first.
"We need to make sure that fire trucks and ambulances can get safely around campus and that students can get out of buildings if need be," said Jednak.
Once these essentials are cleared, the crew moves on to clearing walks and driveways so that faculty and students can make it to the dining halls and classroom buildings.
It would be ideal if this whole process could be carried out while classes continued as scheduled, but sometimes that just isn't possible. The administration needs to consider the safety of those who need to get to and from campus.
"If the administration is making a decision they will call me and ask me what I think the campus will look like when classes are supposed to start," said Jednak.
Basically, it all boils down to the timing and type of storm. The sheer unpredictability of winter weather makes balancing the snow budget very difficult and commonly quite expensive for UConn.

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