Heavy snowfall takes toll on budget

Last year, Washburn spent over $70,000 on snow removal during a State of Disaster Emergency. This year, Washburn is set to spend nearly the same amount thanks to heavy amounts of snowfall.

Matt Kelly

There are some who enjoy the snow that winter brings, but snowfall does cause inconveniences. It affects both the students and the employees at Washburn in terms of safety, cancelation of campus activities and financially unexpected results. Worst of all, there is no way to predict the effect that a snowfall may have.

Last year, the Washburn Facility Services Department saw an unexpected strain on its budget because of the extreme amount of snowfall. In fact, as Topeka remembers, last year’s snowfall was declared as a State of Disaster Emergency. This year, although we haven’t seen as much snowfall at one time, things appear to be roughly the same financially.

“We spent just over $70,000 last year,” said Bill Glatts, director of facility services. “This year we’re sitting at just about 45,000 to 50,000. We’ll probably spend another $20,000, so we’ll probably be at $70,000 again.”

Of course, this strain on the facility services budget has forced them to spend less money in other areas. However, so far these areas consist of only the aesthetically pleasing work of the grounds keeping department.

“Maybe less grass seed, less flowers. That sort of thing,” said Glatts of what facility services will have to cut out of this year’s budget. “There is no specific line item for snow removal. It’s just under the general facility’s budget, so the more snow things we do the less other things we can do”.

So far this year, facility services has used about 40,000 pounds of magnesium chloride ice melt on the campus sidewalk and steps, and 15,000 pounds of calcium chloride mixed with 60,000 pounds of sand on the streets and parking lots.

“It’s a lot of material,” said Mike Jauken, chief of grounds keeping, as he prepared for this week’s snowfall. “We’re getting ready to go through a lot more with this one that’s coming up.”

None of this includes this week’s snowfall. Which will require even more use of material from facility services.

In order to help Washburn grounds keeping with their snow removal efforts, it is helpful for drivers on campus to park with their front bumpers clear of the curbs.

“Cars always pull up their bumper over the sidewalk, and what happens is, that makes it real hard for us to remove snow, plus to throw ice melt,” said Jauken. “If they could just park so their car is back from the curb, that would really help us.”