City of Edmonton could be looking at $10.6M budget shortfall

EDMONTON — Snow removal expenses may be partly to blame for saddling the City of Edmonton with a multi-million dollar shortfall.

The city hasn’t officially started crunching the numbers yet, but Wednesday, council heard it could be more than $10 million in the hole.

Snow removal is one expense that can be difficult to estimate year-to-year, which can then impact the accuracy of the budget.

“As with our budget every year, it all depends on how much it snows,” said Mayor Don Iveson.

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“We are behind $10 million bucks because of snow early in the year.”

The transportation department said Edmonton didn’t get a lot of snow in terms of overall volume, but had small, more frequent weather events that drove up costs.

Pothole expenses, vehicle maintenance and tax appeals also contributed to the projected deficit.

READ MORE: Edmonton expects to be $10M over 2014’s snow removal budget 

The mayor hopes a mild winter could help get the city back in black.

“If we have a light winter, we’ll make that back up to Christmas,” he said. “If we have a heavy snowfall, we’ll have to dip into our reserve, which is there for dealing with this from one year to the next.

“It’s a normal seasonal variance. Administration has worked hard to clamp down on expenditures in other areas to offset this, so we’re actually off $15 (million) on snow but only off $10 (million) on the overall budget.

“Overall, it’s a risk to keep an eye on but it’s in the hands of the weather gods.”

Council also heard the city’s planning department is already dipping into its reserves. The branch manager said the department will start looking at staffing levels and vacancies. Scott Mackie said layoffs won’t be necessary right now.

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