McHenry County municipalities see hike in labor costs, parking tickets after snowfall

Some business benefit from blustery weather, McHenry official says

WOODSTOCK – Snowfall that started Feb. 8 and ended Sunday morning in McHenry County cost at least one city thousands of dollars in equipment and labor required to keep up with the winter storm.

Although some municipalities haven’t finished tallying the final cost of the weekend’s storm, others are celebrating their preparedness and success in keeping pace with the accumulating snow.

In Woodstock alone, contracted services to clean and haul snow from the city’s downtown cost an estimated $50,000, Public Works Director Jeff Van Landuyt said. Buying parts needed to keep vehicles and equipment on the roads cost the city an additional $6,600, Van Landuyt estimated.

Some areas will see small returns from parking violation fines and other snow-related money generators.

McHenry police issued five parking violation tickets between Friday and Monday, each bearing a $25 fine, McHenry Deputy Police Chief Thomas Walsh said.

Officers in Huntley handed out 15 $50 citations for similar violations, Deputy Police Chief Michael Klunk said.

Although gains from parking fines pale in comparison with the cost of labor and equipment, plenty of businesses benefited from the snowy weather, McHenry economic development director Doug Martin said.

Businesses such as gas stations, hotels and cab drivers – along with companies that offer services such as heating, towing and food delivery – are likely to experience an uptick in clientele during a snowstorm, Martin said.

“I definitely think there was a certain number of categorical businesses that benefited from a high amount of snowfall,” Martin said.

Other areas such as Crystal Lake that prohibit street parking when there are more than 2 inches of snow on the ground don’t have an immediate way of counting the number of sometimes handwritten parking citations that are issued.

Keeping the roads clear of ice and snow, however, helped control the number of crashes and other snow-related incidents reported to the Crystal Lake Police Department, Deputy Police Chief Derek Hyrkas said.

“Our public works division does an excellent job,” he said. “I know they were out there almost nonstop clearing the streets.”

For the sixth consecutive year, the Salt Institute awarded Lake in the Hills the Safe and Sustainable Snowfighting Award for its effective salt storage and use of de-icing fluid, a mixture of water and the chemical glycol, according to a news release from the village.

“When the direct and indirect impact of road shutdowns on the broader economy is factored in, road salt becomes even more valuable,” the release stated. “A one-day major snowstorm can cost a state $300 [million to] $700 million in direct and indirect costs, lost commerce and productivity. De-icing pays for itself within the first 25 minutes after the salt is spread – making proper salt storage and timely de-icing a smart investment.”

The village of Spring Grove and the McHenry County Division of Transportation also were recipients of the award.

MCDOT maintenance superintendent Ed Markison said his department worked 32 hours with 36 employees during the weekend, but their work is not done yet.

“Quite honestly, we are not complete with the operation, as we are continuing to wing back all that snow that we put in the ditches,” Markison said in an email Tuesday. “This allows for better drainage with the forecasted rain that is coming, and also gives us more room for storage should we receive more snow. We are also making sure all drains associated with curb and gutter are open, too.”

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