Snow budget, plowing bids introduced to school board

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

ST. JOSEPH — On a day when it was more than 60 degrees outside in November, the St. Joseph school board discussed this year’s snow removal budget.

Kathy Hamilton, the district’s chief financial officer, told board members during Monday night’s study session that last year they budgeted for $20,500 and ended up spending more than $45,000 for snow removal.

In light of the amount of snow they received last year, Hamilton said the district has budgeted $35,000 for the 2015-16 school year.

“It’s so hard to predict because the price is per plow,” Hamilton said. “If we have no snow this winter, obviously we spend a lot less. If there is a lot of snow, we will perform a budget adjustment in the spring.”

Hamilton said the district received bids from the same two companies used last year.

Benton Harbor-based C&H Concrete plowed St. Joseph High School and Upton Middle School last year. The bid that came in this year for plowing the high school was $2 less per plow, Hamilton said. The middle school price stayed the same.

For the elementary schools, Hamilton said Kaiser Landscaping of Stevensville submitted bids that were $5 more per plow, but were still close to previous years.

No action will be taken on the bids until Monday’s regular meeting.

One thing the administration was concerned with was the added cost for additional snow. In case the accumulated snow gets really deep, the companies sometimes bring in different equipment.

“I guess we had to do that a lot last year, which raised our expenses,” Hamilton said. “I contacted both companies and asked them if part of our agreement would be for them to notify us before adding the cost so we are aware of that. When I spoke with both companies, part of the philosophy behind it is if they bring out a bigger piece of equipment it only takes them two hours and should equate to the same price of what their bid is per plow.

“We’ll keep track of it this year to see if that’s the case.”

Both companies offered two-year bids, but Hamilton said she is recommending a one-year contract to see what’s best for the district at the end of the year.

Contact Tony Wittkowski at twittkowski@TheHP.com or (269) 932-0358. Follow him on Twitter: @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Nov. 5, 2015)

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