St. Paul saved an estimated $250,000 by not declaring a snow emergency this week.
The city has asked residents to make way for the plows by moving their cars off residential streets between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Wednesday through Thursday. But it isn’t backing that request up with threats of tickets and tow trucks.
Since Sunday, the Twin Cities metro has seen 3.3 inches of snow, as measured at the airport.
St. Paul’s Public Works Department has the discretion to call a snow emergency under those circumstances, but chose not to. It wanted to spare residents the disruption and expense of an all-out plowing effort.
It also worried the public wouldn’t get the message.
“We have to be mindful of the reality that people aren’t always paying attention,” spokesman Dave Hunt said.
St. Paul can call a snow emergency after it gets three or more inches of snow, but people are more likely to expect one when the snow falls all at once. This week, the city saw an about an inch a day for three days in a row.
St. Paul has asked for voluntary compliance three times this winter, more than in recent years. It’s a response to the way the flakes have flown, Hunt said, not a change in policy.
The city has called only one snow emergency this winter, but the streets were in such bad shape after that storm, the city requested that drivers move their cars again the following weekend.
But St. Paul just asked, it didn’t tow.