Snow removal costs weigh heavily on city budgets

By KBJR News 1

April 4, 2014 Updated Apr 4, 2014 at 9:46 PM CDT

Duluth, Minn. (NNCNOW.com) -- This year's near record snow fall has been a financial drain for local governments.

While the city of Duluth has had to spend a bit more than planned, officials in Ashland have almost giving up on trying to budget for snow removal.

"I've kind of given up on the budget," said Ashland's Public Works Director, Ray Hyde. "We figure that we are at about 150-160 percent of normal budget right now."

Items that are costing municipalities the most include overtime compensation, fuel and road salt.

"Everybody is scrambling for salt. We have found salt, we are getting three loads today, but this is the first time in three weeks that we have seen salt," said Hyde.

Meanwhile in Duluth, the city has allotted $1.9 million to cover snow removal expenses this spring.

Dave Montgomery, chief administrative officer for Duluth, said they have spent most of that money and they are going to have to dip into the fall snow removal budget. That budget is at about $1.5 million.

"We're a little behind so far, but we think we will be alright by the time we get to the end of the year," said Montgomery.

He said they try to anticipate next year's snow removal budget based on the previous year.

They also look at projected weather reports.

"If we are expecting a snowier than normal winter this year compared to next year, we'll up that budget. If it's going to be less we'll probably hold it the same," said Montgomery.

Montgomery says the city's first priority is people's safety. City officials can adjust the budget accordingly.

Officials in St. Louis County say they are doing okay on funds, but most of the money is being spent on over time.

Posted to the web by Kati Anderson.