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Idaho Falls in green, using only 10% 2017-2018 of snow removal budget

It’s no secret that this year’s winter is nowhere close to the snow levels we saw for the 2016-2017 year. The city of Idaho Falls heavily overspent that year’s snow removal budget and for this year, its hardly made a dent.

“The weather we’ve seen at 40 and 50 degree weather — that’s something that I don’t recall. For instance, we’ve had sweepers out the majority of this month out trying to pick up some sanding material on our streets,” said Chris Frederickson, the Idaho Falls public works director. “And that’s something I can’t recall happening in February where we’ve got temperatures that are above freezing that allow us to go out there and put water down and sweep off some sanding material. So it’s a pretty unique year, no question about it. And we’ll take it.”

Last year, the city of Idaho Falls went over its snow removal budget by almost $400,000.

“That was a record-breaking year as far as the amount of snowfall we had, and then this year is probably another record-breaking year in the fact that we haven’t really seen very much snowfall at all,” Frederickson said.

This year, the city is nowhere close to hitting its $1.1 million budget cap.

“Right now, we’re sitting at expenditures under 10 percent of what we’ve budgeted on snow removal for years past. So any savings that we would have, we would hope to have in a snow account that we can save for a snowy day, if you will, to pay for those large snow events in future years,” Frederickson said.

No snow also means no snowplows on the roads clearing the streets. Idaho Falls road and bridge division in public works takes care of that.

“Even though there’s no snow to plow, we still have plenty to do. There’s lots of aspects in maintaining roads. We are getting a jump on a few projects that we hadn’t planned on starting until later this spring, and we’re just getting a jump on them. So we keep busy even though we’re not plowing snow,” said Ken Ray, the Idaho Falls public works road manager.

Snowplow drivers last year woke up in the early hours of the morning getting the roads ready for us to commute on. But this year, the workers can sleep in a bit.

“During a winter event we work long hours — whatever it takes. And so this year it’s just our normal 40 hours a week and we’re saving on our overtime budget, more than anything,” Ray said.

In case we do have another huge winter event, road and bridge crews are still ready to spring into action.

“All my dump trucks still have their plow frames on so we can just switch from one mode — throw the plows on and we’re back into snow mode,” Ray said.

Frederickson also said our surrounding reservoir storage is 87 percent full. Even though we’ve had light snow down in the Snake River Plain, the high country is still getting its good share of snow and water for the next water year.

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