Perfect storm hits CBJ snow budget

Winter officially begins Thursday, and the CBJ Streets Department has spent about 62 percent of its snow-hauling budget.

“Moving all the snow that we blow is $120,000 and we spent $75,000 of that already this year,” CBJ Public Works Director Kirk Duncan recently told the Assembly Public Works and Facilities Committee.

This year the city has a contract with a private company to haul away the plowed and blown snow. It’s dumped at the tourist bus parking lot near the Mendenhall Glacier Visitors Center.

December’s mild temperatures and little snow haven’t clouded the memory of November’s “Perfect Storm,” as it’s being called, when Juneau got 49 inches of snow in just a couple of big dumps. But it could have been — and yet could be — worse, Duncan said.

“It’s interesting to note that back in that big snow year, FY ’07, we spent a $110,000 in overtime,” he said.

Just over 8 percent of the CBJ budget goes to streets. Duncan said the winter snow-plowing payroll totals $1.2 million this year, with $61,000 of that for overtime. Streets had to dip into the overtime account for November’s clean up, though it’s not clear yet just how much was spent. So far, December’s skies haven’t deposited enough snow to plow.

Duncan said it’d be nice if Mother Nature would dump the white stuff on the city’s schedule, when most vehicles are off the roads.

“If we get snowfall at 11 o’clock at night, life is really good. If we get snowfall at 11 o’clock in the morning, life is really bad. We have a lot of people on the road. We can do a lot of snow cleanup at night but if it starts in the daytime it’s really problematic for us,” Duncan said.

The CBJ Streets Department has a downtown and Mendenhall Valley division. Six operators are scheduled each day in the valley and three at night. Five operators cover downtown, West Juneau and Douglas during the day, while four work the night shift. That’s a reduction from last year and Duncan expects another cut next year, due to the city’s shrinking budget.

The state of Alaska is responsible for plowing Egan Drive and North Douglas Highway.

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