City snow removal tests budget limits

Keeping the city’s roads clear during winter weather is melting away money as well as snow and ice.

Monica Dalziel

Monica Dalziel

Keeping the city’s roads clear during winter weather is melting away money as well as snow and ice.

While the city’s 2014 budget saw surpluses in several areas, snow and ice removal was not one of them. And this year, the record snowfall that hit the Shuswap in early January has significantly shrunk the snow removal budget for 2015.

At Monday’s council meeting, council approved the final 2014 city budget.

Chief Financial Officer Monica Dalziel explained that the 2014 snow removal budget, which includes both road and sidewalk  clearing, was about $90,000 over the $780,000 budgeted. That amount was covered by surpluses in other areas of the budget.

“The city is still facing escalating ice and snow removal costs due to… the utilization of liquid magnesium chloride/salt to improve winter road conditions and the implementation of crew shift scheduling for better winter snow clearing coverage,” she stated in her report.

January’s giant snowfall devoured half of the city’s 2015 snow removal budget. That means the city has only $415,000 left for the coming winter out of its $814,000 budget. And there’s not much to draw from in terms of reserves. The reserve account has an approximate $50,000 remaining in it.

Dalziel told council that she and Rob Niewenhuizen, director of engineering and public works, have spoken at length regarding ice and snow removal, and will be presenting a report to council.

“No one has a crystal ball. We can’t keep hoping we have enough ‘underages’ to cover the overages,” she said, utilizing a term Mayor Nancy Cooper coined.

“The trend is up so we are going to bring another budget to council, to reaffirm how you’re wanting to handle going into the future.”