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March Snow

Nick Krause and his nephew O'Maryo Krause, 7, shovel the sidewalk near Seventh and Market streets after a March snowfall.

Erik Daily

Those who lag in getting snow cleared from their sidewalks could find someone else stepping in to do the job — at a hefty price — sooner this winter.

City officials Monday suggested having Midwest Roll-Off handle sidewalk inspections in La Crosse as well as cleanup after a snowfall.

The contractor, at the Engineering Department’s direction, would go through the city 24 hours after the snow stops to check for compliance as required by city ordinance.

Within 48 hours, sidewalks that still have snow will be cleared at a cost of $2.50 per lineal foot, plus a $50 administrative fee, with the property owner billed for the work. Any unpaid charges are added to the property’s tax bill.

Having the contractor rather than city staff look for these properties should mean a quicker response to what has been a chronic problem, Doug Kerns, an assistant in engineering department, told the Board of Public Works.

A lack of staff time now leaves some unshoveled sidewalks unnoticed or unreported for as long as a week, allowing the snow to be trampled and packed down into a thick layer of ice that must be chipped away, Kerns said.

It’s a hazard to pedestrians, he said, and can make it impossible for the elderly or handicapped to safely navigate over.

Midwest Roll-Off is capable of clearing 30 sidewalks a day. Last winter, it did about 2,000 feet of sidewalk, Kerns said.

Council member Bob Seaquist questioned having the same company do inspections and snow removal, which struck him as akin to a fox counting the chickens.

But Assistant City Engineer Bernard Lenz said Midwest Roll-Off has played a similar role in several cases without problems. The contractor must provide the city with a list of snow-covered walkways after its inspections.

In another significant change, the city will not leave door-hanger warnings about uncleared sidewalks this winter as in the past, except after the first snow event, Kerns said.

The city is not required to issue any notice, he said, and in most cases it draws no response.

The city’s Board of Public Works approved the move Monday, though it requested staff report back after the second significant snowfall to see if the program was working as intended.

It also advised letting other city departments that might be affected know to step up their own efforts, to avoid the angry response that can come when snow removal work is done on private property while a nearby city-owned sidewalk remains covered.

“Yeah,” Lenz said, “that’s a very difficult phone call to take.”


(42) comments


What's the big controversy here? This has been common practice for decades. You are responsible for shoveling the public sidewalk that adjoins your property. When did this become a matter open to debate? What has happened to civic responsiblity? If no one enforces the law then some people won't shovel the snow. I walk a lot, and it really annoys me when residents don't clear their walks. It makes it unsafe and difficult to get around. Grow up people!


And just in case you are not feeling burned enough - The storm water run off fees? Hmmm, half the year you move your frozen rain into your yard or boulevard where it can be absorbed instead of letting it melt on the sidewalk and driveway and "run off" into the sewer system.

Bet they didn't calculate that into the fee!

Matt Davis

How about instead of the snow cop, we have a snow fairy. After each snowfall, a city employee randomly goes through a neighborhood. If you are clearing snow, they will ask if it's your residence. If not and you can prove it, you get a check for 500.00 and your picture in the Tribune. I can guarantee much better sidewalk clearing, lots more kids at it, about half of it will come back to the community, and the city will save probably 30,000.00 over the course of the winter based on 40 snow events. My two cents.


While this may not be relevant for the city, it is relevant for the contractor: Sarbane-Oxley Rules -Separation of Duties is a cornerstone of SOX, requiring that no one individual have control of every aspect of a business process. Responsibilities should be assigned to individuals in such a way as to encourage checks and balances within the system and minimize the opportunity for unauthorized access and fraud.

So the contractor is ordering the work and receiving the payment for the work. This would appear to be a violation.

So if the contractor is identifying sidewalks that need clearing (order) and then billing for the work (receiving) this would appear to be a violation..


Will the snow cops have festive seasonal uniforms so they can be distinguished from those who are out their casing your home or things in your yard?


Are you saying that Wisconsin's new Castle Doctrine law applies to the snow cops?

To answer your question, City Hall plans to dress the snow cops up like bellhops or Playboy bunnies, I forget which. If you see one during July, it's probably not a snow cop, in my opinion.


What is funny about this article is, that if you look at the sidewalks that are not getting shoveled immediately, it is not the old people who don't get the job done! They are usually out right away clearing the snow. My 85 year old neighbor does snow blowing for several homes. The young people on the block, are the last to get theirs done. How come the city has more employees now than twenty five or thirty years ago, but can't get half the work done. Let's contract everything out, it would be cheaper!


older: "How come the city has more employees now than twenty five or thirty years ago, but can't get half the work done."

True! They did lots more work way back when. Now we have snow cops telling us to work, we have garbage police telling us what we can't throw out any more, we have alternate-side parking nannies putting tickets on our cars late at night... we have everything except work from these people! They even sent me flyers that say, in effect, "here's a list of things we no longer do!"

City Hall, stop being such a nuisance and do some work! You've grown lazy and fat! Shovel your own d_mn snow!


Comments are disabled on another story involving alternate-side parking today. Is the Tribune trying to shield City Hall from public criticism or something?

Alternate-side parking: another scam perpetrated on the public, like this snow cop nonsense. City leaders have become a total pain in the a$$ with silly rules, silly fees, silly TIF scams, silly ways to annoy the people of La Crosse!


The whole idea is ridiculous. Bob Seaquist makes an excellent point. Having the snow removal contractor policing the sidewalks in order to add to their own income sounds flawed, if not downright illegal. And I'd be much more concerned about the infirm and elderly injuring themselves frantically trying to remove snow before the "deadline" than from navigation obstacles after a significant snowfall. Fiscal irresponsibility, misplaced priorities, warped logic--La Crosse leadership at it's finest!


Excellent points, especially the elderly and infirm hurting themselves.

Also, the city needs to stop plowing in the corners after the residents have shoveled them out: Hexom's plows have tended to block the disabled from access to the street by failure to keep the corners clear of barriers. The home owner on the corner does his part, then Hexom's plows undoes the home owner's hard work, which blocks off the street to the disabled.

Yes, we can't allow the contractor to do both the policing and clearing functions: that's probably illegal too.. conflict of interest and all that. Really, the city should clear the sidewalks because the sidewalks belong to the city. Even still, it should be up to the homeowner whether the sidewalk is cleared, not the city. Free country and all that.




Yep city to far to left Move La Crosse to the center!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Don't worry, this won't last. The city is unable to clear the sidewalks and crossings they are responsible for within 24 hours.


Just clear your sidewalks people. Don't be a low-life.

According to La Crosse City ordinance 5.08, property owners are responsible for clearing the slow and ice off their sidewalks, so rants about the city owning the sidewalks are irrelevant.




Not your sidewalks, their sidewalks. Ask anyone who legally openly carries a firearm in this state. If you are within 1000 feet of a school, don't have a CC permit and you open carry on the sidewalk, you are committing a felony, because the sidewalk is public property (Federal Gun-Free School Zone Act). With a CC permit, it's legal. I'm sure about this because I asked the state DOJ for a clarification... that's what the state DOJ said to me.

The U.S. Constitution trumps City Ordinance 5.whatever too.... the city ordinance is in violation of federal law.


Tell it to the judge when you get your fine :)


As long as it's Ramona, no worries here!


"As long as it's Ramona, no worries here!"

Yeah, no kidding LOL.


Now we are going to have sidewalk Nazi. Nice.


We're going to need a sidewalk CPR technician too, for all those old people getting heart attacks and strokes from shoveling heavy snow.

Deadwood subscriber



If Hexom's Street Department wants to badger you to death over the sidewalk in front of your house (which the city owns), then what's good for the goose is good for the gander! If the plows fail to arrive on time, report the Street Department's transgressions to your council member and the mayor. If a pothole on the street isn't repaired, report 'em!

Sidewalks in front of a city-owned building not clear? Report 'em! Snow plows blocked the intersection or your driveway? Report 'em! Street light out? Report 'em! Road full of bumps or potholes? Report 'em!

Two can play at this game!


The sidewalks are city property, therefore it is the city's job to maintain them, not the residents. It should be no big deal to send around an extra vehicle along with the street plows to do the sidewalks.. in summer, the city should cut the grass on the boulevards it owns too. The city should rake the leaves on its boulevards... trim the trees, et cetera.

As always, I'm open to compromise: allow residents to remove the sidewalks at their discretion, just like they do in Onalaska. Hand the boulevards over to the residents too. That way, residents can better fence off their property for protection against vandals, trespassers and burglars. Without a sidewalk, you can make your home a fortress! No snarky teens walking by your home!

The city has no legal, moral or ethical grounds with which to chastise its residents here: it's unconstitutional to demand that residents perform unpaid labor on city land. We fought a civil war about slave labor.... doesn't the city know that?

random annoying bozo

just out of curiousity, and for needed much of the costs for removing snow goes to the city, and how much goes to the contractor, Midwest roll off? and does the contractor get a stipend for doing the inspecting? or is their potential revenue solely dependent on the actual removal of snow and ice?

this seems like a very flawed system not knowing all the details...and has the potential to be rife for abuse by the contractor, and for the contractor to do kick backs to department heads and council members for keeping the exclusivity of the contract.


let's make the able bodied people on Gov. assistance shovel the walkways in our area.


So where is the snow cop when the city blocks our driveways after plowing? Fair is fair,allot of older people or handicapped are especially affected by this,trying to unblock the end of a driveway can get tremendously heavy,I know,I do it often!


this is so ridiculous! We can close a South Library but we need snow cops???


Our city leaders are old... they suffer from dementia and Alzheimer's, so cut 'em some slack! No, I'm not joking: City Council decisions reek of dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Have you ever looked at them? They're old! Really, really old!


It is the government's job to require manual labor from its citizens. You must go out and clear their sidewalks at their direction.

Do you own your sidewalk? No.

eye spy

This one I agree with. I hate the fact that I'm told to clean the "city's" sidewalk. And to mow there grass.


More landlords should have it in the lease who is responsible for shoveling and mowing. If it says tenant and they dont do it, add the cost to their rent, make it grounds for eviction if not done. If it is the landlord's responsibility have the tenant call in to have it done after 24 hours, renters deserve what is in their leases. For home owners too lazy to clean sidewalks I hope you have good insurance, or someone else might own your home after the next unshoveled snowfall

Whats Next

With all the "chronic" problems, this is the one we focus on?


La Crosse tax-payers want snow cop to patrol city streets and sidewalks, we also want the city to plow streets according to alternate-side parking or abolish the alternate-side parking except nights the plows are out removing snow!!!
We all know that is a fairy tale thou, because city hall is not there to serve the public but to waste the tax-payers hard earned money on pet project for to elite few belonging to the good-old-boys club , raising taxes, and thinking up new fees to drive people out of this tax happy town, so they think anyways!!!!

Comment deleted.

Somewhere in Stoddard, the bottom of a rock is missing its vermin.

The Local Observer

Here's an idea as to WHO could be the Snow Cop(s) that wouldn't cost the City of La Crosse anything.

How about making the retired City of La Crosse Police Officers and Fire Fighters do it?

Make them sign a contract at the time of their retirement, that in order to receive their SIGNIFICANT WRS Retirement checks, they need to be placed on the Snow Cop list.

Two retired Police Officers / Fire Fighters would be required to be doing this work on a revolving list from their date of retirement until the age of 65 on a daily basis. Most likely, each individual would be required to "work" about 4-5 times each winter season.

Anyone who chooses NOT to be put on the list would have to pay $10,000.00 to the City of La Crosse.

It's not like these people can't work.

They all go and work elsewhere after they retire from their City of La Crosse jobs.

It's high time that these individuals start doing a bit more for the people that are actually financing their early retirement(s).

Comment deleted.

Yes! Great idea! But to be fair....that requirement should be of every person who has a pension plan or a 401k. Make them all earn that "welfare." AND pass laws that require ALL people who retire to stay retired! Genius stuff guys.....

eye spy

This is probably one of the dumbest things I've ever read. Yea, they get early retirement but it's what they deserve.


Let's have all those freeloaders on Social Security get off their lazy behinds and shovel some snow! Local Observer, you sound like some sort of crazy person. I am not sure why this paper allows these type of comments. Many papers are not permitting comments which add nothing to the discourse but vitriol and hate. If you are a real person get some help. If you are a paid right wing commentator just go away.


Sounds a little like slavery to me. Unacceptable.


Who do we contact for the lack of urgency with the sidewalks that are maintained by the cities and townships? If they were held responsible it would come from our tax dollars though. That's why we never win with the government. I'm not disagreeing with people being held responsible but to pay someone to marshal the situation, that's silly. If someone is lagging then a neighbor should just call it in. Give the postal carriers a little more job retention and have them use a check sheet of some kind. I don't know, just some thoughts...

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