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Moline’s Public Works Department is gearing up for the 2021-22 snow and ice season bolstered by the addition of six employees whose assistance is expected to help get residential city streets cleared faster and more efficiently.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and accompanying economic uncertainty of 2020, a hiring moratorium last snow season left crews a little shorthanded, said Public Works Director Joe Kuhlenbeck.
“We deployed our people as best we could (in 2020-21), but obviously, the more people we have, the quicker we are able to get out,” Kuhlenbeck added. “Everyone here felt our service was good last year, but we were lacking resources.”
The City’s 2021-22 budget includes a half-dozen additional laborers who can operate snowplows and other ice and snow removal equipment. If needed, another six employees could be added in the next budget year, according to City Administrator Bob Vitas.
Kuhlenbeck said he welcomes the reinforcements.
“In the past, we’ve always concentrated our resources on main routes and hills, making sure they are cleared and safe during the duration of snow events,” he said. “We did not go into residential areas until two inches or more fell, and sometimes if less than two inches fell, they didn’t get cleared at all. By time we did get in, cars had gone over and packed the snow down, making it difficult to clear.”
With the additional personnel, Kuhlenbeck said crews can be more pro-active than reactive, and will be able to tackle residential areas sooner and more efficiently.
In addition, having additional staff means more maintenance on streets and roads can be done in the good weather months, including more road repair and concrete work.
“There’s never a day where I hear staff saying they need to find something to do or are twiddling their thumbs,” Kuhlenbeck said. “There’s always something to do. We want to get some of our infrastructure construction back in-house; pour concrete and repair streets, not just fill potholes.”