Since the start of the academic year, the Department of Facilities Management has spent $167,000 on snow removal. The department typically allocates $160,000 to $200,000 for snow cleanup within its $53 million annual budget that it receives to operate and maintain the entire campus. Facilities Management spent $202,000 during the previous academic year, when 51 inches of snow fell in Providence. Stephen Maiorisi, vice president for Facilities Management, said he expects costs to fall in the same range this year, though 46 inches of snow have already fallen in Providence.
If more snow falls, the department will have less money to spend on spring maintenance costs. But snow removal costs are only a small percentage of the budget. “If we were to go over by a few thousand dollars or even as much as $10,000 or $20,000, we would be able to absorb that in our overall budget of $53 million,” Maiorisi wrote in an e-mail to The Herald.
Facilities Management accomplishes snow removal through a collaborative effort between custodians and staff workers. When snow falls during regular operating hours, 139 custodians are charged with removing the snow from the stairs in front of buildings, Maiorisi said, adding that members of the grounds department clean the sidewalks and the parking lot. In the case of heavy snowfall over night, staff members are called in the early morning to clean up snow before classes start and are paid overtime.
Part of the snow removal services are also contracted out to private companies outside of the University, Maiorisi said. Once a contract is set for a period of time, outside vendors come in every snowfall to clean up contracted areas regardless of the number of snowfalls, he added. “They are doing a lot more removal than they would normally do for the same cost,” he said.
Snow removal is difficult in areas that are not part of University property, Maiorisi said. Although Providence law requires owners to clean up sidewalks in front of their buildings, some sidewalks often frequented by students are not cleared promptly. Last weekend, as snow turned into ice, Maiorisi said Facilities Management began to clean the sidewalks in front of private properties near the University. Some other private or publicly owned areas are left untouched because the city has contracts with private companies, and the University is not allowed to take on city work.