In the winter of 2015, the county didn’t have to hire any contractors, spending around 250,000 dollars. This year, the county had to hire nine, leading up to a 1.6 million dollar price tag.
(Dana Larsen/Ward County Engineer) “This year was probably one of our worst. Mostly due to the amount of snow we received in December plus the extremely strong winds that we’ve seen pretty much during that whole time frame. So that went above and beyond what we would normally need to handle.”
Of that 1.6 million, nearly 500,000 dollars went to contractors alone.
Before this past winter, the biggest spending of snow removal on record was the winter of 2010-2011.
Before that it was 2008-2009.
Larsen said those years still aren’t comparable to this one, with snow covering only parts of Ward County.
(Larsen) “This year, it was all the way all the way down from Kenmare, all the way down to Sawyer, all the way down to Makoti. It was all the same.”
This year’s spending wasn’t exactly anticipated.
(Larsen) “So we’ll have to make some adjustments this summer to make sure we stay within our normal budgets.”
That means less maintenance work over the summer, like graveling or mill and overlay projects.
Larsen said the big bills on this year’s snow removal don’t necessarily hurt the county budget, it’s just been a wild winter.
(Laresen) “I can only remember three years, I’ve been here 18 years, and about only three winters we’ve had to hire contractors to help us.”
Since last winter was a mild one, that gave the county a chance to get enough summer work done to likely balance out any shortcomings this year.
There’s still about 30,000 dollars of outstanding costs that will go to area contractors, but Larsen said tacking that onto 1.6 million won’t make a big dent.