The city of Anchorage, Alaska, spent about $4 million more on snow removal last winter than in each of the previous two winters, but $5 million less than a winter five years ago with record-breaking snowfall, according to data provided by the city.
This year's snow maintenance price tag reflects a cost-cutting decision to haul away less snow near the end of winter, according to city officials.
The city wanted to compare the most recent winters as well as an above-average snow year. The data was compiled by an employee in the city's public works administration, who polled other departments about their snow-removal expenses.
From October to April, an official 82.4 in. of snow fell, amounting to $10.8 million in snow removal expenses, according to data provided by the city. The previous two winters, the city spent a combined $13.7 million for 63.4 in. of snow. But in the single winter of 2011-12, when 134.5 in. of snow fell, the city spent more than $16 million on snow maintenance.
The data broke down into four categories: roads, which includes city-maintained roads as well as rural roads where the residents pay special taxes for snow removal; facilities, which mostly includes parking lots; the parks department, which also refers mostly to parking lots and not trail maintenance; and utilities and other city enterprises.
Anchorage pays a base amount every year to maintain a professional snow-removal crew. That includes equipment, training and maintenance facilities. The price tag balloons as the amount of snow increases, for overtime, extra fuel and more maintenance on equipment. A mix of city employees and contractors works on snow maintenance.