By Charles Sercombe
Not only was this winter brutally cold, it was expensive.
For the City of Hamtramck, it was very costly. During the months of December through March, the city spent over $483,000 to clear snow and salt about a dozen city streets.
That expense was included in a three-month financial report submitted by Emergency Manager Cathy Square on March 31.
Mayor Karen Majewski wasted no time in posting on her Facebook page what the city paid its contractor, Platinum Landscaping, Inc., to plow and salt the city’s emergency routes, as well as city parking lots, Jos. Campau’s sidewalks and cold patching potholes.
There was also one instance of a citywide snow removal after side streets became almost impassable.
Majewski told The Review that despite the severity of last winter, she finds that cost suspicious.
“Even as hard as this winter was, it’s hard for me to imagine how we spent half a million dollars,” Majewski said. “I don’t see how that’s possible.”
Steve Shaya, the Director of Public Works, said there are several reasons for the cost.
The price of salt, he said, “quadrupled,” plus there was over 90 inches of snow – an inch shy of a state record.
“We had a serious, serious winter this year,” Shaya said.
At the time The Review went to press on Thursday, we were still waiting to hear back from other nearby communities on how much they spent on snow removal.
But we did hear back before we went to press from the downriver city of Woodhaven. The cost for Woodhaven’s snow removal, and other road maintenance chores, from November to March was $230,190, said City Administrator Mark Kibby.
Woodhaven uses its own Department of Public Works employees to plow and salt all of its streets, which totals 34 miles. The city is 6.7 square miles, and Hamtramck is 2 square miles in size.
Despite what appears to be a high cost, at least at first glance, Hamtramck Emergency Manager Cathy Square said she was not alarmed by the total.
“We had 92 inches of snow this year,” she said. “It is what it is. I can’t question that.”
Square also pointed out that the money spent on snow removal did not come from the city’s general fund. She said it was paid through a state road maintenance grant.
In the meantime, Square is seeking bids for the services that Platinum Landscaping now provides, including snow removal.
Former City Councilmember Cathie Gordon questioned the motive of Mayor Majewski to post the cost.
Gordon said she finds it curious that Majewski failed to mention that another contractor, CPI, which does street and water and sewer repairs, racked up a $223,540 bill in repairs from December to the end of March.
“I think you have more than ONE fish to fry,” Gordon wrote on Majewski’s Facebook post.