Lingering winter hits budget
The Tournament Capital can’t seem to shake the effects of last year’s dreary winter.
Thanks to a La Nina weather system that extended winter weather into April, the city has already spent more than half of its 2011 snow-removal budget.
Jim McNeely, Kamloops’ streets and internal services manager, said the ugly spring forced the city to spend 60 per cent of the $1.8-million budget.
“We’re going into the winter season probably with less money in our winter budget than we would like to have,” he said, noting the city prefers to have about half its budget left by November.
The snow-removal budget is based on a calender year and resets itself on Jan. 1.
The biggest test for the budget comes around Christmas, when labour costs skyrocket from statutory-holiday pay.
The city has racked up $10,000 in overtime pay so far in 2011.
McNeely noted the city can ask council to dip into reserve funds if the department exceeds its budget.
Kamloops began preparing for the season at the end of summer, getting its 13-vehicle fleet of sanders and trucks up and running.
The city then started its 24-hour rotating shift schedule on Nov. 6.
And, it was just in time.
The snow arrived this week on Monday morning (Nov. 7), but had mostly disappeared the next day.
When the snow does eventually fall in heavier amounts, the city has a bare-pavement policy in place for arterial roads that should see them free of the white stuff within four hours of the final flake falling.
Collector roads are expected to be bare within 16 hours, while local roads won’t be bare, but may be treated by some plowing or sanding at stop signs.
The city also has extra staff and money to make snow-clogged bus stops and sidewalks a greater priority.
They will be cleared as soon as there is enough snow to start plowing.
At the end of 2010, the city had used up just 70 per cent of its snow-removal budget, thanks to a mild spring.
It was a similar situation at the end of 2009, as the city had gone through 90 per cent of its snow-removal budget.
However, Kamloops wasn’t quite as fortunate in 2008, as the cold and snowy winter season saw the city blow through its budget, spending $90,000 on overtime alone in December of that year.