Snow removal budget takes big hit from recent storm

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — We finally learned more about how the snowstorm two weeks ago has impacted the city’s budget.

The storm was the worst one in 19 years and snow removal lasted six days, with overtime for workers reaching over $78,000, but that’s just a small portion of the true cost of the storm.

The city’s snow removal budget is just under $1.1 million for 2016. The storm ate up $437,000 of that budget. That’s roughly 40 percent, which is a big hit that could cause problems later on.

“We typically don’t budget for these types of storms throughout our budget cycle. We do budget towards our normal 2 to 4 inch storms,” said Colorado Springs Streets Division Manager Corey Farkas.

Using up 40 percent of the budget this early in the year isn’t out of the norm.

“We use the vast majority every year of our snow budget in the January, February, and March timeframe and then we also have to account for October through December,” said Farkas.

What made this storm so difficult is that it took six days to remove all of the snow.

“We had areas of the city that had upwards of 19 to 20 inches of snow. You start throwing in some of the wind that we had in drifting and it becomes really difficult to start removing the snow, that much snow, in a reasonable amount of time,” said Farkas.

With winter weather there’s always a concern of big storms, but one storm doesn’t completely kill the budget.

“This one storm, although it was the largest we’ve had in 19 years, doesn’t give me cause for concern. If we have another one or two of that same size at that point we will consider going to talk to council,” said Farkas.

If need be, the city said they will ask for more money to pay for snow removal efforts, but they’re not at that point yet.

Right now, they’re just happy we’re getting a break.

“Mother Nature started helping us out and we’re just going to ride this nice wave of weather until the next one,” said Farkas.

The city said even if they go over the budget, they won’t stop plowing roads, because it’s a safety issue for drivers. They’ll just go to city council and ask for more money, which the council is prepared for.

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