CHICAGO
03/26/2013 11:18 am ET

Chicago Snow Removal Bill: Decades-Old Tab Catches Up, City Owes $6 Million

A federal judge has ordered Chicago to pay up on a $6 million snow removal bill for "disaster" services incurred back in 1999 and 2000.

What the Sun-Times aptly describes as "yet another legal time bomb left behind by former Mayor Richard M. Daley," is now a problem for Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

The ruling ends years of claims and counter-claims with the Federal Emergency Management Agency as FEMA claims the city double-dipped on benefits to repay the massive snow removal costs at Midway and O'Hare airports due to severe winter storms in 1999 and 2000, according to ABC Chicago.

The Tribune reports U.S. District Judge Charles Norgle noted that rather than tapping FEMA money, the city should have used cash from the maintenance fees the city charges the airports.

According to the Sun-Times, Norgle said he wasn't convinced that national and international airlines can properly be considered “disaster victims due to a snow emergency in Chicago.”

While the city could appeal the ruling, the Northwest Herald reports the airlines are playing hot potato with the bill as well, stating in their own filings that they "should only be liable for standard maintenance expenses and not for clean-up after declared natural disasters."

Emanuel's administration said Monday the $6 million settlement, if there is one, will come from airport funds and not taxpayers' pockets.

Judge Norgle's Monday ruling adds to the pile-on of headaches mounting at City Hall: a tense school closing blitz, the battle for the safety of the city's streets and the recent news Daley's administration botched another deal — a parking contract snafu that will cost taxpayers more than $57 million.

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