Severe winter pushes Missoula Street Division over budget


MISSOULA, Mont. - Thursday marks the first day of spring, but the City of Missoula is still trying to figure out how to cover the costs from winter.

It's little wonder the Street Division exceeded its budget for the year. Missoula saw its first snow for the season in November with a total of about 2 inches. And its biggest snow in February with about 40 inches total.

So for City of Missoula Street Division Superintendent Brian Hensel this winter hasn't been easy…or short.

"I would have to say it was probably the worst winter that we have ever had to deal with in my 14 years as being the street superintendent."

It's also been the worst year for his budget.

"I have gone over budget before in past winters, never this much," Hensel said.

He exceeded his budget by $200,000.

The Street Division gets $211,000 for operating supplies. Of that $184,891 dollars is set aside for deicing products; sand, salt and the liquid deicer. In addition there's $15,000 for overtime costs.

This year that extra $200,000 was spent on products and overtime -– about $173,000 for deicing products and $26,000 to cover overtime.

Hensel says when it comes to weather it's hard to predict what he'll spend.

"It's real difficult to try and budget for severity of winter."

This winter has certainly been severe, and Hensel's hoping it's over.

"I always have said that we usually get one more little flurry sometime in March," he said. "But maybe I'll be wrong this year."

The city will have to look for savings in other parts of its budget to cover the extra spending. Hensel plans to ask for an additional $50,000 for next year's budget. If he gets that money it will be spent on deicing products.