Snow: An unpredictable variable for city budget

NEW ULM-Spring has officially been in swing for two weeks, but Mother Nature has yet to get the message, apparently, after over eight inches of snow fell on Thursday night and Friday morning. With the latest snowfall, the New Ulm Street Department once again had to venture out to clear the roadways.

A total of 8.7 inches of snow fell on New Ulm, according to National Weather Service observer Victor Roepke.

Seasonal snow removal is often a costly and time-consuming task. The Street Department’s jurisdiction includes over 90 miles of roadway and additional 425 blocks of alleyways. No only do these roads and alleys need to be cleared, but the snow needs to placed out of the way.

Earlier in the year, City Manager Brian Gramentz commented that weather remains the most unpredictable aspect of managing New Ulm, saying “We can plan everything down to the last dollar, but the variable is always the weather.”

Year to year comparisons are often misleading. Gramentz explained that the total amount of snow each year is only part of the equation. Often the frequency of the storms is the bigger factor. In a given season, you can have 10 snow falls amounting to two inches and then another year have four snowfalls amounting to 20 inches each. Which is more expensive is for road departments is difficult say.

Gramentz acknowledged the city has calculated the cost of a clearing six inches of snow from the down town area, but those estimates do not always hold true. The latest snow storm dropped a lot of snow, but much of the snow will be removed by natural means. “We’re using solar power to do it now,” joked Gramentz.

Friday’s high was 39 degrees, melting a lot of the snow, especially on plowed and shoveled pavement. Temperatures are expected to climb into the 40s today, and into the 50s on Sunday.

“Because our budget started in January, we’re good,” said Gramentz. A spring snowfall does hurt the budget, and is often anticipated. The snow removal budget will not become an issue until November and December. However, the City does maintain a budget reserve incase the snow stay late or comes early next winter.

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