Friday, December 21, 2007

Let me cry some salty tears

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is reporting local communities are having trouble keeping up with snow costs.
In Milwaukee:

For those watching the budget, a white Christmas - while pretty and all that - brings a bah, humbug.

"I used to like it," said Milwaukee Ald. Michael Murphy, chairman of the council's Finance and Personnel Committee. "I don't anymore. It's like a running cash machine."

The city's 2007 snow-removal budget, using past winters as a guide, was based on the projected need for 26 ice-control operations and three full-scale plowing operations. So far in 2007, there have been 36 ice-control efforts and six full-scale plowings, three of which came this month.

In Waukesha:
In Waukesha County, highway operations manager Pete Chladil said his department had gone through 6,214 tons of salt as of Dec. 14, already exceeding the 4,700 tons that had been projected.

"We projected to spend $50,000 in overtime for December," he said. "But we've already spent $120,000 on it, and that was only through Dec. 14."

In Waukesha, officials say the city is about $50,000 over budget on salt costs and $20,000 over budget in personnel costs.
Unfortunately for them, this is Wisconsin. It often snows here. That's why I have a snowblower in the garage with some pre-mixed gasoline. It's why I have several bags of salt. It's why my wife keeps some cash on hand in case the local kids offer to shovel my walk.
Over the past 10 calendar years, Milwaukee has received an average of 46.1 inches of snow a year, according to an analysis done by the city budget office. The city tracks snow by calendar year, to match the budget, not by winter. So far this year, there has been about 70 inches, or 52% more than the average.

That trails only one year in the period, 2000, which featured those repeated December snows and brought the total for the year to 89.9 inches.
(In my best cranky old man voice) I remember the snowstorms we had when I was a kid. We would dig tunnels under the snow and have little snow caves to hang out in. This stuff is nothing compared to what we had. After all these years, you mean to tell me each of these communities don't have some sort of contingency plan?

Update! The lovely Doreen from Waukesha blames it on Global Warming.