Convinced an outside contractor will do a better, quicker and more cost-effective job, Palatine is relinquishing its sidewalk snow removal responsibilities.
Instead, the village will pay Brian Edward Landscaping of Palatine at least $980 to clear about 23 miles of sidewalks every time a storm drops at least 3 inches of snow on the ground.
"It is less expensive for us to use the outside contractor," Village Manager Reid Ottesen said. "Their rates are better than what ours would be doing it in-house primarily on an overtime basis. They're also more responsive because our priority is getting the streets clear."
Palatine's decision to hire a contractor, approved unanimously at Monday night's village council meeting, was based on the analysis of a two-year pilot program.
During the past two winters, the village compared the costs of sidewalk snow removal between its own in-house crews and the landscaper. In most cases, the company was able to begin soon after the storms ended and complete the process within 10 hours.
The village's priority, however, is to clear the roads first. Palatine's sidewalk operations historically haven't started until a day or two after storms ended, and its criteria allowed up to 72 hours to begin.
It took Palatine crews 25 hours to do the job at a cost of nearly $1,700 due to the slower equipment the village uses, officials said. Furthermore, the circumstances led to more property damage and the machinery left behind a thin layer of snow that could easily convert to ice, causing a potential hazard for pedestrians.
Under the latest agreement Palatine reached with the landscaper, the company must begin work within eight hours of a storm's conclusion. The village will pay $980 per event with the ability to add areas at a rate of $98 per hour.
With the overtime saved, Palatine officials said extra hours may be allocated toward tree trimming, tree removal and requests for service.