Joshua Dillen
The Baker City Herald

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.