Snow alerts add up in Sioux Falls’ winter maintenance budget

Published: Dec. 30, 2022 at 8:45 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The entirety of South Dakota just can’t seem to catch a break with the snowfall to start winter. Already the City of Sioux Falls has called three snow alerts just in December. That all is taking it’s toll on the city’s winter street maintenance budget.

City plows are out just two days before the new year, trying to clear snow from the latest round of storms. City Street Operations Manager Dustin Hansen said the busy weather has made for a busy start to winter, where the last couple of years have been quiet.

“Last year, we only called one snow alert, and we only had maybe 15 to 18 de-icing events. We typically budget for five to six events per year. And then we’ll have another 20 to 25 de-icing events.” Hansen said.

Around $9 million is budgeted each year for snow removal, de-icing events, pothole fixes and other needs in that winter budget. And every time a snow alert is called, Hansen said the city spends $80,000 to $100,000 clearing each inch of snow from city streets. Even as this past month has been busy, that budget resets on the first day of the new year. So the costs from past storms won’t carry over.

“We’ll start our new budget on January 1. So a lot of people think that our winter budget is from November through April. Well, it’s not. It’s a calendar year. We’ve got two days left in the year, we’ve called three snow alerts this year. We’ve had quite a bit of snow with this last one. So we’re probably going to consume most of the budget for 2022.” Hansen said.

But of course, any more snow events this winter will carry into the next season.

“You’ve got basically January through March, sometimes April. But then you’ve got next November and December that we have to plan for as well.” Hansen said.

If the area is truly unlucky, and more big snow events are on their way for 2023, then the division can always go to the Sioux Falls City Council and ask for a budget supplement.

“So we haven’t had to ask since I’ve been here for a supplement. But it’s one of those things where if we have to do it, we’re going to do it.” Hansen said.

Hansen said they’ll finish cleaning up this latest round of snow in the coming days. But they won’t get that much of a break before the next show for snow comes to town.