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Duluth's Salt Budget Running Thin After April Snowstorms

Posted at: 04/17/2013 7:31 PM
Updated at: 04/17/2013 11:55 PM
By: Laurie Stribling
lstribling@wdio.com

Another April snowstorm rolled into the Northland, and it turns out it's not only creating winter blues. The snow is costing the city of Duluth a lot of money.

"Nobody planned for a winter of this extreme," Maintenance Operations Manager Kelly Fleissner said.

"It's very unusual in so many ways. We tend to budget on averages not on extremes."

Fleissner said city crews have been out 31 times this year. The average is 23. Also, the city has used almost all of its salt and sand budget. They started with almost 13,000 tons in January, and now there is only 2,000 tons left.

That 2,000 tons of salt is suppose to last into the beginning of next winter, until the end of December. Fleissner said crews may go through that remaining amount by the end of this winter.

"It's possible," Fleissner said. "I'd hate to think that was the case, but it's possible."

While the city is hoping this week's snowstorm is the last one for the winter, other businesses are benefiting from this long winter. Duke's Towing in Duluth has been making more money because of the snow.

"Busy, anytime you get snow, sleet or slippery conditions," Driver Lucas Lilliberg said.

Lilliberg said the extra money is great, but being busy isn't blinding.

"I like the business, but again, I wouldn't mind getting in the boat and doing some fishing," Lilliberg said.

While some are cashing in and others are going broke due to the snow, most can't wait for it to go away.

Fleissner said funds will be redistributed from the city's general fund if the salt budget runs dry.

Another negative outcome of April snow, Fleissner said plowing is harder on the roads because of the thaw. That means more potholes for drivers to deal with.