Trail after a significant snowfall on Jan. 24, 2018. Trail Times file photo

Trail’s snow budget for 2018 buried by early-year storms

Last year’s record-breaking January snowfall in the West Kootenay took its toll on the city’s bottom line

Winter is just sinking its teeth into the region but it’s already taken a bite out of the City of Trail’s bottom line.

The city closed the books on its winter costs for 2018, which not only included this past December but also way back to January 2018 and the subsequent winter months at the start of that year.

Last January had the greatest amount of snow recorded for the month in 36 years with significant snowfalls late in the month. Mid-February also brought some big amounts of snowfall.

A very cold March brought twice the amount of snow than usual for that time of year, with the beginning of the month seeing some significant precipitation.

It all added up to plenty of work and cost for the city’s snow removal.

“At this time the un-adjusted numbers reflect gross snow removal expenditures for 2018 of $742,322 as compared to the consolidated budget of $558,500,” explained David Perehudoff, the city’s Chief Administrative Officer.

“This represents an overage of $183,822 or 32 per cent.”

He said once the city reconciles its fleet costs there may be a downward credit adjustment that will result in overall net cost going down.

“But the costs for 2018 will definitely exceed the approved budget,” he added.

Perehudoff pointed out that the big costs for 2018 came from January through March.

The 2018-19 winter started off better and slower, which allowed the city to close the year by saving approximately 18 per cent of the usual outlay for December.

“This was indicative of the better winter weather experienced for the later part of 2018 and heading into 2019,” said Perehudoff.

The city tackled its first major snowfall of 2019 on Wednesday and were busy cleaning the downtown streets that evening.

Perehudoff cautioned that even though it could be a mild winter, one significant snowfall has a big impact on the budget.

“We can have many low snowfall days but a major storm can greatly influence costs as part of overtime costs the city incurs to more directly respond.

“Looking forward the city is hopeful that we will experience a bit of a reprieve for 2019. If the current favourable winter continues, actual costs will be better aligned with the budget.”

He added staff will be asking council to consider approving more significant increases in 2019 budgeted costs for snow removal activities based on historical averages with overall snowfall patterns and associated costs on the rise.

“The budget doesn’t have to be finalized until the middle of May so the final approved budget can be adjusted if costs in the early part of 2019 are considerably less than anticipated.”

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