The cost of our recent cold weather

COLD

GREEN BAY – Recent cold weather isn’t just making it hard to stay comfortable.

For some, it’s making it difficult to be profitable.

With wind chills still below zero on Wednesday afternoon, it’s no surprise there weren’t very many people walking around the Broadway district in Green Bay.

But days like this have been the rule more than the exception this winter, and some businesses are noticing.

“January you always slow down in retail, that’s just a normal for every year. But with the brutal cold it has really slowed down because people just don’t want to be out. They don’t want to be walking around,” says Nicole Zich, owner of Sassy Girl, a clothing boutique on Broadway.

Zich estimates the bitter cold has hurt her bottom line by about 25 to 30 percent.

While people might not be spending their money in stores, one entity that is spending a lot of money is the city of Green Bay’s water utility.

Nancy Quirk, General Manager at the Green Bay Water Utility, says it “went from 27 (water main breaks) in 2013 to, I believe, 56 or 57 main breaks right now.”

And at an average of $6,000 per repair, the total cost this January has likely been more than $330,000.

That’s about a third of the utility’s annual repair budget, spent in under a month.

But officials aren’t worried about going over budget just yet.

“Because it’s happening in January, we have an opportunity to look at our expenses and see what we maybe can possibly adjust to keep the costs in line as much as possible. If we go over budget we’ve got the contingency fund to help us,” according to Quirk.

All this talk might just make you want to stay home and turn up the heat, but that’s been costing you too.

According to numbers from Wisconsin Public Service and the National Weather Service, you’ll probably end up paying 22 percent more for heating this January than you did last January.

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