Winter maintenance carries hefty price tag


Simpson College’s campus and the city of Indianola have had to fight ice and snow accumulation throughout this winter in record-breaking amounts.

The excess accumulation and the long winter has led to Simpson and the city of Indianola having to dig deep into the budget for snow removal in order to keep the residents safe.

“The record-setting winter that we have all endured comes with a price tag – although you cannot put a price tag on the safety of students, faculty and staff,” Jeff Wagner, interim director of campus services and grounds manager, said. “We are already in the process of evaluating how to offset the excess snow (and) ice removal costs that Simpson has incurred.”

For the city of Indianola, the process for setting a new budget is a little different.

“We have our budget set due to the fiscal year ending on March 15,” Laurie Hebl, director of financial and administrative services for the city of Indianola, said. “Unfortunately, we can’t really do anything to change that budget since it is set by taxpayers’ dollars and we’re allowed one set amount by the state to pay for these expenses.”

While taxpayers are the ones who provide the means to fill potholes and remove the snow and ice from the Indianola streets, there is a fund specifically on Simpson’s campus for situations such as these.

“The funding for snow and ice removal comes out of the General Grounds Maintenance account,” Wagner said. “This account also funds landscape improvements, lawn care, tree removal and maintenance, annual flowerbeds, things like that.”

Now with some of the snow melting, the city faces the issue of filling potholes and doing general repairs.

Simpson is facing the issue of gutters falling off buildings due to the heavy ice accumulation, which is going to stretch already tight budgets even tighter.

“The money really hasn’t been increasing over the years,” Hebl said. “We’re doing everything we can, and we hope that everyone sees that, but it’s really been a struggle.”

Even with the numerous days of melting, it will still be a while before any repairs can be done on the streets of Indianola or on Simpson’s campus.

“Unfortunately, we will have to wait until all of the snow and ice is completely off of the roof to repair the gutters,” Wagner said. “Once the spring thaw arrives, assuming that it does, we will evaluate the condition of all of the gutter systems and make the necessary repairs.

“This also applies to roof leaks. I encourage all Simpson students to keep both Campus Services and Residence Life informed of any roof leak issues that may arise. I cannot express enough how important this is.”

Even with the promises that repairs are coming—students are beginning to get anxious.

“I recently purchased a new car, and I cringe every time I can’t avoid hitting a pot hole,” sophomore Brad VanEaton said. “Let’s get them filled up. Having wet feet after walking to class is a pet peeve, and I wish they’d do a better job actually removing the snow from the sidewalks.”