That's money falling from the sky | Bleader

That's money falling from the sky


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Some people are sick of the ice and snow, but at least a few city contractors have to be cheering for more. At least I would be. 

As the Sun-Times recently reported, the city has already burned through most of its 2008 budget for snow removal, mostly on road salt and labor costs. And that's without a blizzard or anything close. If we're slammed with a big storm before the end of the year, city spending will explode.

Since the infamous blizzard of 1979 changed Chicago's political course, mayors have tried to stay prepared for a storm of Doctor Zhivago strength by keeping an auxiliary army of snow removal workers on call. Last fall the city inked new contracts with several private companies that agreed to be ready to mobilize 24/7 for the next five winters. If they're not needed, the contractors don't get paid. If they are, they'll roll out their plows, dump trucks, backhoes, and other equipment at rates ranging from $125 to more than $200 an hour. According to the contract terms, the city could pay nearly $409 million to four top snow contractors over the next five years:






Christophano Equipment Co

 $           233,046,000.00


 $          46,609,200.00


 $            63,225,000.00


 $          12,645,000.00

MAT Leasing Inc.

 $            57,345,000.00


 $          11,469,000.00

Lindahl Brothers

 $            55,110,000.00


 $          11,022,000.00


 $           408,726,000.00





But so far, according to records, the private snow crews haven't been enlisted (or paid) this year. Nor were they used the last few relatively mild winters. The city's rock salt suppliers have been far more fortunate--the slow, repeated snowfalls have frequently left the roads messy and forced the city to pay at least $34.3 million for salt since 2003. Among the companies that have benefited the most:



North American Salt

Detroit Salt

Hutchinson Salt

Morton Salt

 $           1,594,535.31


 $    3,301,703.51

 $  9,241,723.17


North American, Detroit, and Morton have signed new deals with the city worth up to $34 million through 2009.