The economic impact of snow days

I grew up in Cleveland. Driving in this snow is actually fun for me (and no, I don’t drive an SUV or 4WD vehicle). But, I have to say this: we do a lousy job of clearing the streets in Dayton and there should be no excuse.

Yes, I am well aware of the number of miles in Dayton. But, thats a cop-out. When the going gets tough, the tough get plowing. How could we fix this? Ask a naive 27 year old who works for me: “why don’t they just sit a pot of money aside to hire everyone with a plow to jump in on snow days” he says.

Hmmmm. There’s a creative idea. Or, maybe we should have plow mounts on every SUV the city owns, and train cops, firemen, trash collectors, water meter readers and bureucrats how to plow? How about all the school bus drivers who aren’t working anyway? We need a better sollution

Hmmmm.

The fact is- while we don’t have hurricanes, floods (anymore- knock on wood), wildfires, drought (yet), wonky electricity or other problems other places have- we do have snow- and not that much of it (this ain’t Buffalo). So when we get hit, we need to have a mobilization plan that works- and here’s why: the economy suffers when people can’t move.

Businesses close, schools can’t do count weeks (an absurd concept thought up by bureaucrats), people can’t get to the hospital as quick, etc. It screws up cash flow for our poorest people, and it makes TV news unwatchable (as well as normal programming- I’m so sick of seeing shows squished on my big screen HD set which I bought just so I could see the “big picture”)

So- where is the leadership in Dayton on this? How many years are we going to let this BS continue? Figure out a better strategy, because we can’t afford a 4 day wait to see plows on our side streets and a week off every time it snows more than 6 inches in 24 hours. Days off mean less tax dollars collected- hell, the county even gave everyone a 2 day extension, this is an investment that pays for itself.
How about a goal for next year: never more than one consecutive snow day. And for the year after- no snow days. How about this as an economic development pitch: our workforce shows up 24/7/365 without the problems you have elsewhere- like wildfires, hurricanes, wonky power….

yeah, that’s economic development.

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17 Responses

  1. Pam February 14, 2007 / 9:26 am
    I’m not so sure that snow days screw up cash flow for the poorest people. Those are the people who don’t have the luxury of staying home when the weather is bad. If they don’t show up for their shift at McDonalds or the BP station etc., they get fired. So it does create a hardship for them (in that they have to find a way to get to work) but it doesn’t necessarily result in lost wages.

    Setting aside money to hire everyone with a plow won’t work if WalMart outbids the city. Gotta keep those parking lots clear, so everyone can shop at the big box stores!!

    I was out last night and didn’t think it was too bad. But I lived in Erie for 7 years.

    725, 675, Far Hills and I75 were all snow covered but passable. But when I got to the streets in a certain historic district, I might as well have been trying to drive through my yard.

    It might help if there were snow emergency parking restrictions (one side on even days, the other side on odd days) so the plows could actually get through the narrow side streets without plowing all the cars in.

    If you don’t move your car, you get a ticket…which could help pay for the overtime for the plows.

    One thing that makes me laugh about this is that I was told on Monday (before the first snowflake fell) that I didn’t have to come to work the next day.

    Apparently, my employer has more faith in the meteorologist (who has, what? maybe a 75% accuracy rate?) than it has in the city’s ability to keep the roads clear.

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  2. David Esrati February 14, 2007 / 11:09 am

    Pam- Poor people don’t have reliable transportation. They have bald tires. The businesses they work in see a decrease in business- it all is a vicious circle. They have kids at home- no child care- it all goes together.
    Snow parking restrictions? Wow, that’s an idea- they can’t do it for street sweeping either. The city thinks we’re too stoopid to figure these things out.
    A plow actually went down my street at 8:30- but it didn’t do much- just knocked the top off the pile. One pass, one truck doesn’t work.

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  3. Josh Bruce February 14, 2007 / 12:17 pm
    I’m more curious to know about the city contracts with the plowers. The snow fall this year was late. The first time it fell (substantially) it was cleared rather quickly.

    I remember sitting in my apartment and around midnight the trucks were rolling. This most recent time – they weren’t. I wonder if maybe the contracts for the plowers were at their end, and therefore, had to be renegotiated before the plowers would start rolling again.

    The parking lot for my employer was more clear than the road – but we use a private company with a contract that is still in tact to do it for us.

    Quick response is not Dayton’s strong suit. More of a Scooby Doo “Rut-ro, rut do re do?” sort of thing.

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  4. David Esrati February 14, 2007 / 12:21 pm

    Josh- as it sits, the city does their own plowing- no contracts. Street Maintenance workers drive the plows. Sometimes these guys plow for 24 hours straight- causing lots of overtime. My suggestion is to get more plows out- and utilize others spare time.

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  5. Drexel Dave February 14, 2007 / 12:22 pm
    I think we all need a little hibernation time every year in order to rest, and clear the senses.

    This need to constantly be moving and on the go is a very strange and perplexing traight of western man. No wonder the heart attack rate is so high here.

    This too, shall pass grasshoppas!

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  6. Gene February 14, 2007 / 12:56 pm
    Sometimes it snows – such is life. I was told (by a city official)that if the City of Dayton had one plow to do all of the streets, going 12 miles per hour that it would take 8.3 days to clear all the streets. So, SNOW HAPPENS, and if you want it to be more clear, buy more trucks with more plows with more people working said trucks with said plows – oh, but wait, that takes MONEY, something the city of Dayton and many other areas do not have enough of to achieve this goal. I say hole up and relax a day or two, and if poor people can’t work, that sucks, but why is it the cities job to make sure they get to work. And if you believe that people really get fired, prove it. Most employers, believe it or not, are understanding. There is just TOO much snow sometimes.

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  7. David Esrati February 14, 2007 / 1:32 pm

    Hmm- I’d say it’s a homeland security issue- clearing the streets. Use some fed dollars to buy extra plows.
    And as to “too much snow”- this is nothing. Try Buffalo.

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  8. Gene February 14, 2007 / 1:55 pm
    Why don’t you pay for more plows – or are you waiting for your government handout? It takes a little time, and it is TOO much snow for the elderly and handicap, but since you are such a tough big guy, I’m sure you will lend your time to help others – oh wait, there is money to be made. And this is not a Homeland security issue – I just passed a bunch a illegals and they are doing one heck of a job clearing the parking lot where I work! I don’t know about your street, but baking some cookies and make hot coffee has made my street really clear – god bless the Dayton Service Department and their love of cookies. I think you should tile your next spot : “Mother Nature vs. City of Dayton: Who Will Win?” Mother Nature wins at first, but then we just move the snow. Takes a little time boys and girls, stop thinking the world should work at the pace of Fast Food. Grow up and deal with it, and help! Then again, you are waiting for the government to help you. And Buffalo, well if your stuck then gnaw on some wings and relax.

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  9. Jeff February 14, 2007 / 8:05 pm
    I recall a bad blizzard in Chicago in the 1960s, where the side streets where cleared by people on a block working together to shovel out that block. The city kept the busy streets cleared.

    Frankly, this snow was not that bad. Have people always been this bad when it comes to snow? I would think people who grew up here are used to it by now and know how to cope.

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  10. Phillip Ranly February 15, 2007 / 11:18 am
    I would agree, we all need a little time to hibernate and sip hot chocolate when the snow falls. Am I one of the few people who still loves winter?

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  11. John Ise February 18, 2007 / 9:22 am
    The economic impact of snow days…what about the ecoomic impact of snow, period?

    I wonder how much Ohio’s harsh winter climate impacts it’s economy. Richard Florida, author of “Rise of the Creative Class”, notes that young, mobile, footloose creative types factor weather into factors they take into consideration where they locate. I now live in Miami, FL. and remember how Dayton (a city I still love from afar) winters would wear me down, physically and psychologically. Not seeing direct sunshine still does that to me. Does this post make sense or is this just psycho-babble?

    In the meantime, check out this interview with Richard Florida:
    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-1156163746651756400&q=“richard florida”&hl=en

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  12. Greg Hunter February 19, 2007 / 9:31 pm
    Now is the time for every citizen to grab his/her shovel and clear the snow from the storm drains. Standing water is dangerous for drivers and pedestrians.

    Just a friendly safety tip for Tuesday’s warm weather.

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  13. Bruce Kettelle February 20, 2007 / 11:25 am
    I have a commercial snow removal business.

    Here in Trotwood the city crews kept up with the conditions pretty well. Budget wise it is always a balancing act as to how much snow equipment to keep on hand. When plows are only used five or ten days a year it is difficult to justify spending too much on them when there are so many other needs in the community.

    As for the commercial side, we have to hustle to keep our customers happy. When we get over six inches it gets harder because it takes so much longer to remove the snow. I remember plowing the Hills and Dales Shopping center for 36 hours straight during a 22″ snowfall back in ’96 or ’97. That left little time for my other customers. We do our best to get everbody at least partially open tight away but are appreciative when peolpe stay home (and out of our way) so we can get things back to normal as quickly as possible.

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  14. Diane March 25, 2013 / 12:04 pm
    Centerville maintains a list of volunteers who have agreed to help shovel snow and rake leaves for the elderly or disabled. Great way for the high school students to earn community service hours they need for National Honor Society and college applications while serving their communities and helping their neighbors.
    Do the neighborhoods of Dayton have anything like that?

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  15. David Esrati March 25, 2013 / 1:04 pm

    Hi Diane, Dayton doesn’t have it- but we should!

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