Snow plow license law changes again in Syracuse

Dec 5, 2018

The city of Syracuse has once again changed its snow plow license law, after updating it in October. The city’s common council was divided among themselves and Mayor Ben Walsh’s administration over how to deter illegal snow dumping, while also not overburdening businesses.

In the end, the council unanimously chose to reduce the license fee from $250 to just $50. The higher fee, which the Walsh administration started enforcing last year, was making some snow plow operators either raise their prices or stop plowing in the city. Councilor Susan Boyle, who spearheaded the changes, said the fee reduction is substantial.

“The city doesn’t have a right to any profit off of businesses, just because they’re operating in the city," Boyle said. "It has to be a realistic, functional cost. This reflects the cost of processing the license and nothing more.”

That fee can be reduced even further to $10, if snow plow operators attend a seminar that focuses on illegal dumping and potential fines for breaking those laws.

"There are certain heights allowable for snow piles," Boyle said. "In intersections, you're not allowed to leave piles of snow in the road, you're not allowed to block sidewalks. There are very specific things outlawed regarding snow dumping and those are the standards that we want people in the industry to understand and adhere to."

A plow driver faces a $150 penalty for operating without a license. Boyle said homeowners could also be fined if plows block sidewalk access with snow. 

“The goal is going to be to protect the homeowners, to educate the plow drivers, protect them from receiving tickets," Boyle said. "Down the road, just making Syracuse a more safe and more walkable community.”

After three tickets for illegal snow dumping, plow drivers could have their licenses revoked for two years. Operating with a revoked license is a $500 penalty.

Corey Driscoll Dunham, the city’s director of operations, who has been a proponent of the license, said in statement that they are pleased an update to the law was passed and believes it offers value to both the license holders and the city. 

Officials are also working on creating a list of private snow plow operators that have received a license, to be made available on the city's website. The city has also created a page on its website that will allow residents to track where city plows have been and to report snow related concerns.