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County plowing money is spent for the year

A month into 2008, Spokane County’s snow plowing budget is exhausted.

County Engineer Bob Brueggeman told county commissioners Tuesday the county has spent about $2 million on snow removal since Jan. 1. The snow removal budget for the year is about $1.5 million, he said.

The dismal state of the budget won’t stop around-the-clock snow removal, because county officials say they will shift money to fill the gap. Dollars could be moved from street maintenance or emergency reserves.

“Not plowing today is not an option,” Commissioner Mark Richard said. “We’ll address the deficit in the budget come summertime.”

Although the city of Spokane also is in 24-hour plow mode, its budget is in better shape. With more storms in the forecast, however, the city could end up in a similar situation by the end of the year, said Matt Doval, Spokane Street Department accountant.

About a quarter of the $2.2 million budgeted for snow removal in the city has been spent, Doval said.

Last year, the city moved about $1 million from street reserves to the $2 million budgeted for snow removal because of larger-than-normal snowfall in the spring and in December, he said.

Even with a few more inches falling Tuesday, county and city street officials reported progress in clearing streets. Public Works Director Dave Mandyke said the city opted to keep nine plows on residential streets instead of moving them back to arterials to clear new snow.

“We need to show progress out there,” he said.

The city is working with Spokane Public Schools to clear priority bus routes by the end of today, Mandyke said.