Although this winter has been better than most many can remember, some residents in the City of Howell have expressed concerns with budget cuts related to sidewalks and snow removal.

The City earlier informed property owners that it would no longer be clearing snow from certain sidewalks along east and west Grand River, as in years past. Resident and business owner Sally Witt sent a letter to the City in January – stating she’s been a business owner in the same location for more than 40 years and the City has always plowed the sidewalks after a snowfall. Witt noted she did receive a letter stating snowplowing would end at Barnard Street, and she is four properties east of Barnard. Witt questioned the reasoning behind stopping the plow there and the cost of plowing a few more blocks. The letter further questioned “If I die from shoveling the snow, will the City pay my burial expenses?”

The concerns were relayed during a recent City Council meeting. Staff noted contact was made with Witt, who understood the reasons but was still concerned and just wanted Council to be aware. Interim City Manager Erv Suida tells WHMI last May through the budget process, it was determined the City would need to make some cuts - one of which was reducing the amount of sidewalks they plow during winter. Suida says the change has caused a few people to not be happy and they’ve expressed that to the City but they do understand the need to trim the budget and operate with a balanced budget. He says that’s been their goal and that’s why the service was eliminated.

The only sidewalks that will continue to be cleared are in the Central Business District, west of Barnard and east of Center. All others must be cleared per ordinance to avoid municipal civil infraction tickets, as well as any costs incurred from having independent contractors bring the property into compliance. (JM)