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Utah’s snowy winter cost a lot of overtime, then came the spring flooding

Road sand in the Lehi City salt shed, Dec. 31, 2022.
Curtis Booker
/
KUER
Road sand in the Lehi City salt shed, Dec. 31, 2022.

With the record-setting winter, many cities in Utah broke their piggy banks for snow removal.

After two major snow storms in February and April, the city of Sandy busted its budget by $250,000. The city of Lehi went $54,000 over its $132,000 budget for things like road salt, truck maintenance, snow plow blade repairs and overtime hours for plow drivers.

Street Department Manager Brad Benson said things could have been worse if they hadn't stockpiled salt from the previous winter.

"One thing that we were super lucky about was the year before we had such a light winter that we actually filled up our shed. So we started out with a full bay."

Now with all that snow melting, he anticipates the overtime budget could continue to suffer.

"Honestly, we went from snow plowing to flood mitigation within a week or two. I think it will impact it. Obviously, this year when we have big snow, we have a high runoff. So your overtime budget can take a hit on either end."

In Eagle Mountain, Communications Manager Tyler Maffitt said they spent $100,000 for snow removal when their allotted budget was only $85,000.Similar to Lehi, he said a stockpile of salt from last winter helped.

"We did spend some of that extra $15,000 on man hours, fuel costs, maintenance of the vehicles and things like that. That's just a normal part of running a city. And while it's not exactly advantageous that we had a harsh winter, it's out of our control."

A fleet of Lehi City snow removal trucks sit ready to roll out ahead of the New Year's Day storm, Dec. 31, 2022.
Curtis Booker
/
KUER
A fleet of Lehi City snow removal trucks sit ready to roll out ahead of the New Year's Day storm, Dec. 31, 2022.

Maffitt doesn't anticipate any major flooding in Eagle Mountain that would further disrupt the budget as flood mitigation is something they plan for.

"As the weather was warming here earlier this spring, you know, some of our waters were running fast and high,” he noted. “And so it did flow onto one of our highways, we were having to reroute traffic."

Still, Maffitt said they may have to push back some scheduled asphalt maintenance projects to accommodate any money that was overspent.

In Lehi, Benson said any upcoming road projects will not be canceled, but they could be pushed back until after the start of the new fiscal year in July.

This winter was an eye-opener for Benson and he wants to be prepared for anything Mother Nature brings next winter. It’s why he asked for an additional $40,000 toward their salt budget and for overtime expenses.

"Historically, we don't necessarily use all of it, but with the brine machine and stuff like that, there is some upkeep and maybe even getting another tank appropriated for us,” he said. “It would be one thing we looked at too."

Curtis Booker is KUER’s growth, wealth and poverty reporter in Central Utah.
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