December, 2011 was the 15th warmest December on record with an average temperature of 35 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the National Weather Service.
The City of Des Plaines spent about $40,000 less on snow removal in December 2011 than the previous December, said Tim Oakley, director of public works and engineering.
Snow removal workers didn’t have any snow to plow in December, but did have to salt the roads on three different occasions, Oakley said. Workers don’t plow if there is two inches of snow or less.
Des Plaines had 16 inches of snow in December 2010 and workers had to go out more than 10 times to clear the roads and put down salt.
Although December offered a break to city workers, overall savings are hard to determine because budgets are determined by the calendar year, Oakley said.
Des Plaines had a blizzard in February, as well as summer floods and windstorms, all of which were expensive events for the city in 2011, Oakley said.
Annually, the city spends about $300,000 on road salt and liquid calcium chloride and $225,000 on overtime snow removal wages for city workers, Oakley said.
The city allots $75,000 annually for contract snow removal workers, but the city only used $50,000 of those funds in 2011.
“Aside from blizzard, we really didn’t need them,” Oakley said of snow removal contractors.
Des Plaines has a contract with Snow Systems, based in Wheeling. Des Plaines laid off 15 workers in 2008 and since 2009, has been able to operate with $150,000 less, Oakley said, crediting savings to the flexibility of having contract workers.
Messages left at Snow Systems were not returned at publication time.