Even before Wednesday night's storm, state and local government agencies reported they had spent the majority if not all of their snow removal budgets due to overtime pay and increased demand for de-icing materials.
"It's been rough. I'm not going to sit here and say it hasn't. It's been hard on the residents and on us," said Cecil Bruton, Sandy City street manager.Bruton said Sandy has expended its salt budget and he has requested another $8,000 to $10,000 for salt to carry the city through the rest of the winter. To save money, he said, snow removal crews are mixing sand with salt to lay down on the roads.
Salt Lake City has used its entire $70,000 snow removal budget, Parviz Rokhva, assistant street supervisor, said.
Another $40,000 has been used in addition to that, said Joseph R. Anderson, public works director.
While smaller cities have had to rely on overtime crews and the contracting out of snow plow services, Rokhva said Salt Lake City has not paid much overtime. Shifts are rotated to ensure employees don't work more than 40 hours a week. When extra hours are needed in large storms, workers are given comp time.
"We are conscious about the fact we have to be tight with the budget," Rokhva said.
Due to light winters the past several years, Rokhva said, the money allocated for salt was cut back. "This year it caught up with them," he said of city officials.
Rokhva estimated it will cost the city as much as $140,000 for keeping the streets clear of snow this winter.
"I would have to say we are close to the end of actual salt budget that has been budgeted. (Snow removal) is not one of those jobs you can stop when you run out of money," Charles Clay, Murray City public works director, said.
To address the problem, government officials are having to dig deeper into city budgets to keep up with the snowfall.
Tom Despain, Murray operations director, said water and sewer employees have been working overtime to keep city streets clean. He estimated snow removal has cost the city 50 percent to 75 percent more than it did last year.
Public works directors across the valley say that will deplete budgets for summer road maintenance.
"We haven't done anything else since before Christmas," Russ Willardson, West Valley City public works director, said of snow plowing. "We won't be able to do as much roadwork this summer. The money is already spent."
While light snowfall in years past prompted Salt Lake officials to allocate less money for snow removal, smaller cities have benefited to some degree.
West Valley and Sandy have been able to depend on salt stockpiles to get them through the first part of the winter.
In West Valley City, crews have laid down about 1,100 tons of salt, Willardson said. Of that total, 800 tons were on hand from previous years. West Valley has another 1,200 tons available, all of which might be used by the beginning of spring.