THE PRICE OF SNOW: How much near-record snowfall has cost Duluth, Superior in 2019

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With near-record snowfall totals this season, Duluth and Superior are digging deep into their budgets and have already spent some big numbers on snow removal early into 2019.

Duluth’s Snow Removal Spending:

Duluth officials said, each year, the city budgets around $3.37 million for snowplowing, sanding, and other snow removal operations.

With all that work comes snow-related overtime costs, for which the city budgets $89,450 annually.

As of February 13, 2019, Duluth has spent $87,000 on snow-related overtime costs, which is just about $2,450 shy of the city’s overtime budget for the entire year.

For comparison, by February 13, 2018, the city had spent around $30,000 on snow-related overtime costs.

As for road salt spending, Duluth budgeted salt usage for the first half of the year at 7,500 tons ($267,000). The city has used close to 6,200 tons ($219,000) as of February 20, 2019.

As the city approaches the top of its overtime budget, city leaders say they won’t dial back snow removal operations simply because they’re over budget. They added they hope to save money elsewhere.

“It’s likely that this budget is going to see cost savings through materials purchased which will help offset the unique winter we’re having,” Phil Jents, Communications and Policy Officer for the City of Duluth, said. “We also implemented Priority Based Budgeting for the first time last year, which gives us much more information about our programs and services we offer, and makes it much easier to save money and adjust priorities as needed throughout any given year.”

Superior’s Snow Removal Spending:

In Superior, they don’t have a specific figure budgeted directly for snow removal spending each year. Instead, that funding is included within the city’s total street maintenance budget.

For 2019, Superior officials say their street maintenance budget sits just below $1.3 million.

The City of Superior budgets $53,000 dollars annually for street maintenance overtime hours, which includes work done all year round.

As of February 8, Superior had spent $20,000 dollars on overtime costs, which adds up to about half of its 2019 overtime budget. For comparison, in January 2018, Superior had spent $4,155 on snow-related overtime.

So far in 2019, Superior has spent $9,412 on road salt.

Briggs LeSavage

Briggs LeSavage

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