Josh Lingle shovels outside Ye Olde Curiosity Shoppe after overnight freezing rain brought icy conditions to Kenai on Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)

Josh Lingle shovels outside Ye Olde Curiosity Shoppe after overnight freezing rain brought icy conditions to Kenai on Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna asks for more snow removal money

The City of Soldotna estimates it will spend more than expected on snow removal services this winter. Citing above average snowfall, the city’s streets and maintenance division has requested an additional $85,000 for the work, on top of what the city already budgeted for snow removal.

An ordinance up for consideration by the Soldotna City Council would give the department $85,000 more to finish out the season. The council gave initial approval to the ordinance Wednesday, with a final vote and public hearing scheduled for the council’s March 9 meeting.

Snow removal services got $100,000 in the city’s Biennial Operating Budget for fiscal year 22, which began on July 1, 2021, and ends on June 30, 2022, according to the legislation.

As of Feb. 15, Soldotna had already incurred about $128,000 in snow removal. City administration estimates an additional $85,000 could be needed for snow removal through the end of the year.

Soldotna Streets and Maintenance Manager Scott Sundberg wrote in a Feb. 16 memo to city council members that the amount of money the city spends on snow removal in any given year fluctuates. When compared to a historical average, the current snow year rises way above, as compared to years like 2014-2015, when snowfall was below average. That year, Sundberg wrote, the city only spent about $15,300 on snow removal.

“We are well above the average snow fall for this area,” Sundberg wrote.

The $100,000 set-aside in the city’s budget is allotted for specific work-related snow removal. That $100,000, Sundberg wrote, pays for separate contracts or snow removal, snow dump site storage and snow hauling. As of Feb. 15, the city has paid more than three times the amount budgeted for snow removal this season.

“Not knowing what Mother Nature will bring from now until the end of March we respectfully request a midyear appropriation of $85,000,” Sundberg wrote. “This will cover the monies we are already over and hopefully carry us through the snow season.”

The challenges of the current onslaught of rough winter weather are not unique to the Kenai Peninsula. Shannon McCarty, a media liaison for the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, said via email this week that back-to-back storms have made the current weather year “tough” for the department as it relates to snow and ice removal.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough assembly will consider next week whether or not to give initial approval to a similar request from the borough’s maintenance department. That department has requested $200,000 for snow removal and sanding of Kenai Peninsula Borough School District facilities, citing “above average” snowfall.

“Site accumulated snow piles have reached sizes requiring snow removal from multiple sites,” says a Feb. 16 memo from Kenai Peninsula Borough Maintenance Director Tom Nelson and Finance Director Brandi Harbaugh. “The Maintenance Department is seeking supplemental funding in order to ensure there are sufficient funds on hand through the end of the fiscal year for snow removal and sanding.”

If given initial approval by the assembly Tuesday, a final vote and public hearing would be scheduled for April 5.

Soldotna’s Wednesday city council meeting can be viewed on the city’s website at soldotna.org.

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

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