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Politics and Government

Syracuse updates snow plow contractor law, councilor calls it ‘extra red tape’

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO News (file photo)
Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh (right) with DPW Commissioner Jeremy Robinson, earlier this year.

Some snow plow contractors in Syracuse were under the impression that the city was no longer requiring a license to operate, according to city officials. No licenses were issued last year, until Mayor Ben Walsh’s administration stepped up enforcement of the law. Now the city has updated its ordinance on snow removal contractors to increase further compliance.

Among the changes, the city did away with a rule that required snow plow contractors to carry around a book of all the residences they were plowing. Syracuse also increased the penalty for not having a license by $200, because before, the penalty was less than the fee to get a license.

Corey Driscoll Dunham, the city’s director of operations, said they worked with the business community to lower the license fee for larger fleets to $50 for additional vehicles. Dunham said enforcing the license law addresses complaints from residents.

“Certain snow plow operators dumping snow in the sidewalk or in the middle of the street, dumping snow on hydrants,” Dunham said. “We want to provide an incentive to those who comply, which is why we’ve lowered the rate for additional vehicles. But at the same, this does cause quality of life issues and public safety issues and we want to hold people accountable to that.”   

The Syracuse Common Council approved the changes last week, but Councilor Joe Carni voted against it. Carni said while he applauds the administration for looking at the dated law, he said the changes are just extra red tape and punitive to snow plow drivers.  

“We got calls from residents, I know there are a lot of elderly members of the community that can’t go out there and snow plow or shovel their own driveway so they hire someone to do it," Carni said. "They got calls from contractors saying, I have to increase the amount because they’re actually coming after us now for this, because for years, we never enforced this.”

Carni said the ordinance should be done away with, and enforcement of the rules should be driven by complaints, as it traditionally has been.