Jun 8, 2023 - News

Report: Municipal Minneapolis sidewalk snow removal would cost $40M

Image courtesy of the City of Minneapolis

A municipal snow removal program for Minneapolis sidewalks would cost nearly $40 million a year, which is double a previous estimate, according to a report released Tuesday by the city's public works department.

Why it matters: Advocates say the city needs to address unshoveled and icy pathways, particularly for those with mobility challenges. But critics, including Mayor Jacob Frey, have raised concerns about the cost and practicality of such a program.

By the numbers: In addition to annual operating costs, buying snow blowers, Bobcats, trucks, and trailers would cost $29.6 million over the first three years.

  • The public works analysis was for a three-year, phased approach that would eventually include all 1,910 miles of sidewalks in the city, starting with the most traveled.

Show me the money: The city expects to collect $479 million in property taxes this year. A $40 million snow removal program would be about 8.3% of the levy.

Reality check: The report raises other issues, including hiring 50 two-person crews that would work 12-hour shifts following every snowfall in the city.

  • Since those crews would work around the clock, noisy machines would be outside peoples' homes overnight.
  • The use of diesel trucks, Bobcats, and snow blowers would add to air pollution.
  • One big reason for the increased cost estimate is that crews would have to haul snow away in places where there is nowhere to pile it.

Of note: The analysis assumes the city would respond to 50 snow events per year, including times when just a trace falls.

What they're saying: Frey said in a statement that the report shows "that a city-wide snow removal program would be a very costly addition for our taxpayers to fund."

  • He said he will continue to look for ways to help residents in need of snow removal assistance.

Our Streets Minneapolis executive director José Antonio Zayas Cabán said in a statement that without the program, most vulnerable populations will spend half the year unable to get to where they need.

  • "The cost increase is not a surprise, and the research shows it is still worth the investment," he said.

What's next: The Public Works & Infrastructure Committee will hear the report at Thursday's meeting.


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