A City of Kenai grader moves snow from a roadway on Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

A City of Kenai grader moves snow from a roadway on Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

School snow removal gets financial boost

The Kenai Peninsula Borough will get an additional $390,000 for sanding and snow removal at school facilities following approval of the funds by borough assembly members Tuesday.

Citing “above average” snowfall across the peninsula, Maintenance Director Tom Nelson and Finance Director Brandi Harbaugh wrote in a Jan. 26 memo to assembly members that the supplemental funds are needed to make sure there is enough money to continue snow removal through the end of the current fiscal year, which ends June 30.

“Site accumulated snow piles have reached sizes requiring snow to be (removed) from multiple sites, and roof snow loading at design capacity has required roof snow removal,” the memo says.

Nelson said Wednesday via email that the borough usually budgets about $350,000, but can supplement that amount, if needed, from other accounts. The borough has spent an average of $540,000 on snow removal each year for the past three years, Nelson said.

The amount of money spent on snow removal usually goes up toward the end of the season, when crews must haul snow piles away from places like parking lots. It is “very rare,” Nelson said, for there to be so much snow that the borough has to remove it from school roofs.

“This year’s early snowfall has been unusually heavy snow, followed by rain, and snow load on our school roofs was at capacity for many of our schools,” Nelson said. “School roof snow removal efforts have been significant, and this drove the need for additional funding.”

Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Planning and Operations Director Kevin Lyon said via email Tuesday that large snowfalls early in the season required snow removal from roofs earlier than normal. Other entities on the Kenai Peninsula, he said, have had to make budget adjustments because of heavy snowfall.

The City of Soldotna, for example, needed an additional $100,000 for snow removal efforts last month, citing heavy snowfall. At the end of December in 2022, the city was more than $27,000 over budget.

More snow is forecast to fall on the central peninsula Wednesday.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@gmail.com.

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