Christmas snow blows budget
A giant winter storm hit the upper midwest over the Christmas holiday, lasting four days and spoiling many travel plans.
Locally, 17 inches of snow fell in the Blue Earth area, from Thursday through Saturday.
Travel was hazardous, and snow plows did their best to keep the highways, roads and streets as clear as possible.
“We are seeing a lot of overtime by our street crew,” Blue Earth City Administrator Kathy Bailey says. “The snow removal crews worked up to six hours on Christmas Day.”
Bailey says the seven-man street crew put in 102 hours of overtime from Thursday through Saturday.
“I estimate that cost to be about $3,000,” Bailey says. “Plus the cost of fuel, snow hauling and repairs, and this Christmas storm probably cost the city $7,000 – above budget.”
She says several pieces of equipment broke down, including blowers, PTOs, etc.
“I think we will have a $2,000 repair bill,”she says. “Whenever you put equipment to such heavy use, you are bound to have some breakdowns.”
Blue Earth crews were still out hauling snow on Monday and Tuesday. Bailey says when they get done hauling all of the snow, they will work on widening the streets and clearing sight-lines at intersections.
Faribault County road crews were also out all week, including Christmas Day.
“The crews took Sunday off, but otherwise they were out all week,” County Engineer John McDonald reports.
He says the plowing has been going well, but it has been a lot of work, and a lot of overtime hours.
McDonald says his highway department budget has snow plowing costs built in, so it is difficult to determine the extra expense involved.
“The problem is that this snow is not going to melt away soon,” McDonald says. “The ditches are full, so if the wind blows, we will be plowing this same snow over and over again.”
He stressed that motorists need to remember to give the plows room to do their work.
“I want everyone to remember to not ‘crowd the plow,'” he says. “We don’t want to see anyone injured in an accident with a plow.”