Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
(Al Hartmann | The Salt Lake Tribune) It was slow going for commuters along I-15 in Ogden Tuesday January 29 during the second installment of a major winter snow storm to hit northern Utah.
Hard winter drains Salt Lake Valley snow-removal budgets
Rainy-day funds » Most cities have reserve cash to pay for snow plows, salt and overtime.
First Published Feb 21 2013 11:26 am • Last Updated Mar 01 2013 02:52 pm

Salt Lake Valley residents have had plenty of opportunities this frosty season to enjoy snow. But as snow-removal efforts kicked into high gear, cities’ budgets to keep streets clean are going pretty fast, if they are not gone already.

"We’re very careful, and most cities in the state understand that we can budget everything in the world, but the biggest wild card is snow removal," said John Park, city manager for Cottonwood Heights, which has a snow-removal budget of $400,000.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Park said the city estimated it spent $129,000 of that budget by the end of December. In January, the Wasatch Front received an abundance of snow, and at the end of the month, Cottonwood Heights already exhausted its snow-removal budget.

"It’s impossible to predict," Park said. "Last year it was very dry, and two years ago, we had a very wet, late winter."

Although the set budget has melted, Park said not to worry as state law requires cities to keep rainy-day funds.

"We have plenty of money in our reserve," he said.

Using that fund will eliminate some of the road projects in the spring and summertime, but Park said it’s just a give and take. Plus, snow isn’t all bad.

"Snow is always welcome," he said. "We like drinking water and all that."

Last year, Cottonwood Heights spent a little more than $200,000 for snow removal. Like other cities, it has a contract with Salt Lake County, which provides Cottonwood Heights with 11 snowplows, salt, tools, manpower, etc.

"When you’re talking about dealing with limited resources, it’s manpower and equipment," Park said. "It’s more of a juggling act."

story continues below
story continues below

So why doesn’t the city consider adding more workers and trucks? According to Park, the topic comes up often enough, but due to the unpredictable nature of weather, the city would rather do with what it’s got.

"We talk about it all the time, and it’s about balance," Park said. "Last year we would have a lot of men and equipment doing nothing."

Public-services director Doug Hill of Murray said his city is likely to exceed its snow-removal budget.

"We usually get more snow in February and March," Hill said. "We budget every year $75,000 for buying salts, and as of [January] we have spent $55,000."

Hill said if there’s money left from street, water or sewer projects, the city uses that, but if there’s not, it has to ask for funds from the mayor and city council.

The city has 25 employees who operate snowplows and $24,000 for overtime pay this year; that amount already has been exceeded.

"I think Murray residents have come to expect that their roads will be cleared, and I do think we do a good job of keeping the roads in Murray city cleared," Hill said.

Similar story for the city of Holladay as its snow-removal budget of $300,000 is nearly consumed by early February.

"We’re not able to do what we plan to do if worse comes to worst," said Tosh Kano, Holladay’s public-works director.

In addition to cutting back warm-weather projects such as asphalt paving repair, Kano said it’s possible to dig into next year’s snow-removal fund. Another option is to ask for credit from Salt Lake County.

"The nice thing about our relationship with the county is the county is on the calendar year, and we’re on the fiscal year," Kano said. "We go from July to June."

Next Page >

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.