January 8, 2009

The price of snow

A gallon of milk is over $4. The price of flour is skyrocketing. Gasoline? Anybody’s guess.

But snow removal on your street?

Surprisingly affordable.

Based on a home value of $150,000, the property owner would pay a total of $2,783 in city property tax. Of that total, the city collects $640. Of that cut, only $13.50 is allocated toward snow removal.

If a home were valued at $75,000, the owner would be paying $6.75 for city street snow removal. A home valued at $40,900? Snow removal is costing well under $4.

According to city auditor Sandy Bohrer, the Hazen City Commission has levied two mills to go toward snow removal for each of the past 10 years. In 2007, those two mills equaled $5,700 for emergency snow removal, of which $4,500 was spent throughout the winter.

This winter season, snow removal expenses in December alone were $5,300.

Much of those funds are spent on contracted and hired help and diesel fuel, Bohrer said. Other expenses include overtime pay and hiring of temporary workers to keep up with the quickly accumulating snow on the streets.

"When we deplete our fund for emergency, it’s up to us to find the money in the general fund, or up to you to decide how you want to provide services," Bohrer told the commission at Monday night’s meeting.

Emergency funds must not only cover snow removal – but flood emergencies as well, Hazen Mayor Delmar Schramm said.

To rebuild the Emergency Snow Removal Fund is a slow process, Bohrer noted. The commission has budgeted $15,000-20,000 for snow removal for the last four to five years. However, carryover into the following budget season can never be greater than 75 percent of the budgeted amount.

For example, if the city would budget $15,000, the amount of cash carryover required by law would be $11,250.

"You’re going to have some good years and going to have some bad years," Bohrer said. "To build that (fund) up, it’s going to take many years."

The Weather Network