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Snow Piling Up Removal Costs

February 24, 2011, 4:53 PM by Nicole Winters

Snow Piling Up Removal Costs
SIOUX FALLS, SD - Sioux Falls received just a couple of inches of snow during the weekend snow storm, but it was enough to call a snow alert. The weather has kept plows busy for much of the winter and that may mean tough times for the city's budget.

The snow piles from city streets say a lot about this winter and the work crews have had to put in.

"It’s been busy for us," street/utilities manager Galynn Huber said.

It's also been expensive. The city's snow removal budget that began January 1 is already starting to see some strain.

"Twenty-five days in January we received moisture, Not every one of those was a plowing event, but a lot of those meant we had to go put chemical down" Huber said. 

The city has issued four snow alerts in two months. On average, they call just five alerts for an entire year.

"We have all of March left, all of November left, all of December left," Huber said.

Sioux Falls Snow Statistics
• Average five snow alerts a year
• Already issued four in two months
• Crews have worked every
  holiday since Thanksgiving
Snowfall this winter is about on average for the city of Sioux Falls, but the budget is already taking a hit because of timing of the snow.

"It seems like it likes to snow on the weekend and every time the city has a holiday, we ended up with weather.  We had to have crews in, supervisors in and we worked it," Huber said. 

That's happened every holiday since Thanksgiving, which means both more man power and more pay.

"By the weekend, they have their 40 hours in.  When you go into a Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday event, you're going to be paying overtime for crews.  Certainly, it's more expensive then if the snow comes during the weekday," Huber said.

While snow removal costs seem to be piling up, Huber isn't ready to panic just yet.

"We’ll see how the rest of the winter goes," Huber said.

Until then, it's just cross your fingers and hope the snow doesn't fly again.

Huber goes over his budget every month, and says if it starts to get tight, he'll cut back where he can. If it goes over, Huber says the department will have to ask the council to tap into reserves, though he says it's much too early to tell whether that will be needed.

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