Winter weather woes cause $70,000 loss

Kate Hampson

There is no snowfall that comes without cost. And as Topeka now knows, the more the snowfall, the higher the cost.

Weather is hard to predict months before it is going to happen. It can be assumed that winters are going to be cold and summers are going to be hot and humid, but precipitation isn’t as simple.

The university has the job of trying to predict how much snow is going to fall each year so that it can set the budget for snow removal. This time that guess was a little off as Kansas and much of the rest of the country saw snowfall unlike it had seen in years.

“We try to look at historical dates and the amount of snowfall we had last year during the winter,” said Bill Glatts, director of facility services at Washburn. ‘This year was obviously much more than last.”

This winter there has been a lot of snow. Between Dec. 22, 2009 and Jan. 8, 2010, Washburn spent $70,000 to cover the costs that came with the unstoppable flakes.

“We are responsible for clearing the sidewalks, including the perimeter sidewalk around campus, the parking lots and the roads,” said Glatts.

Facilities services isn’t just in charge of clearing the snow. The total cost also included pre-treating and retreating the sidewalks to make them safe to walk on. And although there is a plan after the snow has finished falling, it is hard to plan in advance.

“When we set our budget it is almost impossible to know how much snow to plan for and how much money we are going to spend,” said Glatts. “However there is a plan on how to efficiently remove the snow.”

The $70,000 wasn’t covered by the budget, but there are some options to get some of that money back. Since the snowfall in Topeka was declared as a State of Disaster Emergency, the Federal Emergency Management Agency may return some of the money to Washburn. Glatts says they are currently filing paperwork for a FEMA reimbursement.

As for the budget, at this point in time, it is not being readjusted until they find out if and how much money they will get back.

“I would hope that we don’t have to sacrifice anything in the future or make cutbacks,” said Glatts.