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It seems like we've gotten very little snow this year. Obviously I know that when our city makes their budget they have to be on the safe side in making sure they have enough budgeted for snow plowing, but when we have a winter like this, where does that extra money go?
Answer: Well, it's not always to the same place.
Also, the savings maybe isn't as much as you think.
City of Brookfield director of public works Tom Grisa noted that even though his staff might not be out on the roads plowing snow or spreading salt, they're still working.
"The amount of labor is going to be pretty much the same. The 7 to 3:30 work day, if they're not plowing, it's not like somehow the city has laid off all those employees," Grisa said. "We've got them doing other productive work that we can do during the winter months like maintenance on vehicles."
Savings from a lack of need for plowing primarily come from not having to shell out money for overtime during heavy snowstorms as well as the city not having to purchase too much extra salt.
"We have a minimum amount of salt that we have to buy by contract, but we don't have to buy extra, so there's some savings there," Grisa said. "So it's pretty much we don't have to pay as much overtime, don't have to buy extra salt, and we don't buy as much gas or diesel fuel. But the labor is still going to be expended, it's just going to be put to a different use."
The money that is saved is not particularly earmarked for one specific purpose.
"What we don't spend is savings for the year that then the (Common) Council makes a determination, if we underspend the budget," Grisa said. "They make a decision of what to do at the end of the year. Sometimes they'll spend it on a project, sometimes they'll put it in the general fund."
Grisa noted that while the winter has been mild for the most part, plows have had to be out to salt the roads more often than one might expect.
"While we've not had a lot of snow, we've had a lot of freezing rain and ice," Grisa said. "It certainly looks like we’re getting off easy this winter. But we could have a terrible March or even late February. If I could predict the future I wouldn’t be working in government."