Baker City’s expenses for clearing streets of snow and ice pale in comparison to the expenses it incurred during last winter’s incessant storms and sub-freezing temperatures.
The city’s bill for spreading sand and salt through Dec. 31 amounted to $5,356, said Michelle Owen, public works director.
“We’re not spending much right now,” she said.
Not compared with last winter, certainly.
By Dec. 31, 2016, the city had already spent $95,841 — more than the $92,000 the City Council had allocated for the entire 2016-17 fiscal year, which ended June 30, 2017.
The snowiest winter in more than a quarter century prompted the City Council twice to transfer money from other parts of the budget to keep plows, graders and dumptrucks running.
The final tab was about $312,000.
This winter, by contrast, with only a couple of minor snowfalls around Christmas and temperatures well above average, the city has yet to dispatch snowplows.
“Certainly, it’s been a blessing to not have snow in the streets,” Owen said.
For much of last winter, crews were working three shifts a day to keep up with Mother Nature’s almost constant barrage of snow.
Owen said it takes a snowfall of four inches or more in a single storm to trigger snowplowing.
Public works employees have spread ice-melting salt and traction-aiding sand at intersections and hills about half a dozen times this winter, she said.
See more in the Jan. 10, 2018, issue of the Baker City Herald.