Is Oak Creek Paying Too Much For Snow Plow-Damaged Mailboxes?
Some Oak Creek officials feel city goes too far out of its way to detriment of Street Department.
How many mailboxes were hit by Oak Creek snow plows last year?
If you guessed 122, you are correct! (And you're also probably the person who is writing this story.)
The city reimburses residents up to $200. The money spent on mailbox replacement last winter - just materials - was between $3,200 to $4,000.
A drop in the bucket of a $22 million budget.
But Street Superintendent Mike Lampe says it's not just the money involved that concerns him - it's also the time and effort put in by street department workers to personally replace the mailboxes when they could be focused on other things.
Other communities don't do nearly that much, Mayor Dick Bolender said. They may write a check to cover some of the cost, but leave most of it up to the homeowner.
And with new subdivisions going in, the cost of a mailbox itself is skyrocketing. Lampe said there are mailboxes in multiple Oak Creek subdivisions that can cost up to $1,000 (editor's note: !!!) in order to meet the developer's requirements.
"I don't know about you, but I've never seen a thousand-dollar mailbox in my life," Bolender said last week.
"I don't even want to see one."
So as winter approaches, the city is considering changing its $200 policy. Possibly making it a little less, and maybe putting less of a burden on city of Oak Creek staff. It could just be writing a check to the homeowner and leaving it at that.
"To pay $200, $300, $400 for a mailbox in the state of Wisconsin, where you know that the mailbox has to be near the street and it's going to be hit by snow, and now the city is expected to pay for a new mailbox, doesn't seem quite right to me," Alderman Tom Michalski said.
"Granted, if a snow plow runs over four or five mailboxes, or even one, I think that's a little bit different. People should be having a useful, sturdy mailbox that will take the beatings of a Wisconsin winter and the beating of a snow plow coming through and cleaning up the street."
Oak Creek city officials said they will present the Common Council with a revised policy at a later date.