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Sandy plows past overtime budgets as they tackle winter storms

Posted at 5:32 PM, Apr 04, 2023

SANDY, Utah — Another dose of winter weather meant another busy day for crews in Sandy.

"We're just loading trucks up for salt for the, like I said, we still got trucks out plowing today on a normal full day shift," said Craig Smith, concrete coordinator for Sandy Public Works.

Wearing many hats, Smith has also driven a snow plow at night for the city for the past four or five years.

"We generally run about 150 miles somewhere in that ballpark," he said. "We've definitely had some 60, 70 hour weeks, some 80 hour weeks."

Paul Browning, the assistant public works director for the city, says drivers he has spoken with say they've had overtime in every paycheck since November.
While Browning appreciates the efforts, it has had an impact on what the city budgets for overtime.

"Our overtime budget, we're right now, we're pushing about $70,000 over a budget on that," he shared.

Snow plow drivers are responsible for 322 lane miles.

"We normally plow about anywhere from 30-40,000 miles in a year," Browning explained. "Right now, not counting yesterday or today's storm, we are at 65,000 miles."

The added work to treat and keep the streets clear has also had an impact the supply budget for items like salt. In an average year, Sandy budgets $150,000 for salt, using about 450-500 tons of it during a typical storm.

"This year, we're pushing $250,000 over budget on salt," said Browning.

Sandy Mayor Monica Zoltanski added that the budget doesn't include the tires on plow vehicles, the plow blades, and the teeth that go on the blades. She and her finance staff are looking at every contingency fund they can tap into to cover the shortfall.

"Every department has contingency funds, so public works, public utilities, administration, non-departmental and so all of those are available to us and year to year, we don't spend everything down to the dime," said the mayor. "We have plenty in reserve this year, we're not in financial distress by any means."

However, Zoltanski says that pulling from those contingency funds will diminish what they have available to do their capital projects next year. She also says by this time of year, the city would normally have potholes filled and they'd be moving on to their bulk waste program. It's something the mayor shared they haven't really begun in earnest, because they can't get ahead of the weather.

As the snow continued to come down in Sandy on Tuesday, snow plow drivers like Smith say it's business as usual.

"We can't be everywhere at once but, you know, we are out there doing what we can to keep the roads open," he said.

As for what kind of impact this season could have on taxpayers, Mayor Zoltanski says they are taking a careful look at the numbers before she ultimately presents her budget to the Sandy City Council at the beginning of May.