Brutal winter has cities looking for ways to balance budgets - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Brutal winter has cities looking for ways to balance budgets

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CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) - It's the last week of March but Tuesday morning brought snow to eastern Iowa. Weather is even hitting spring sports.

"My son's track meet was canceled today," said Sharon Wilkinson, Cedar Rapids. 

The Cedar Rapids Public Works Department says it's had to clean up almost 40 snow events this year, higher than the average of approximately 25.

Many of the events just brought an inch or two of snow which damages snow plows.

"Going out and plowing one inch ends up costing us a lot of money," said Craig Hanson, Public Works Maintenance Manager.

The city used about two years' worth of snow plow blades.

A lot of snow fell on the weekend, meaning it was overtime pay.

In all, Cedar Rapids has spent around $3 million this year, up from the average year of two million.

"That is part of why we have have reserves and that's how we operate as a city is to have those reserves," said Hanson.

Spending all the time and money meant the city skipped other projects.

"This year we weren't out doing the trimming of trees and alleys," said Hanson. "We weren't out doing storm drainage cleaning. We weren't pulling up and looking at our creeks and doing work in our creek areas and other areas of road projects."

The Public Works Department has asked the Finance Department for more money to cover the gap. That may come from the road use tax reserve fund, but first needs approval from city staff and the city council. The last time the Public Works Department did that was the winter of 2008-2009.

Iowa City bases its budget on a six year average, which is about $540 thousand. This year the city spent an extra $90,000.

Dubuque says all the overtime cost more than expected -- but the budget should still balance.

Waterloo did not have numbers available for us.
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