▶️ City crews, local contractors eagerly await firing up idle snow plows

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Except for the mountain passes, there’s been no need to plow snow off city streets or private properties.

And that begs a question: Are people and agencies saving money when there’s no snow to move?

We spoke with public works departments and private contractors to find out.

“Last year this truck was used three times. That’s it,” said Matt Matwich of Four Seasonal Services, LLC.

As a private contractor, Matwich offers snow plowing in winter to round out his landscaping services.

But some winters, his snowplowing equipment sits unused and costs him money.

“A plow will run you $8,000 or $9,000,” Matwhich said. “Snowblowers: $2,000 to $3,000 depending on what you get. Ice melt spreaders will be up around $3,000. That’s a lot of capital to sit on and never use.”

And it’s too early to tell if the City of Bend is saving money.

A massive pile of traction sand just sitting in the city’s public work’s yard is indicative of the snow season thus far.

There hasn’t been any need to spread it on icy roads yet, but it will happen.

Until it does, city road crews are keeping busy on other projects.

“We are still doing asphalt patching and concrete work. We are still sweeping,” said David Abbas, Transportation and Mobility Director for the City of Bend. “We’ve actually still got some paint going on the ground when temperatures allow it. We’re still working, just not on plowing snow.”

The City of Bend budgets about $1.5 million each winter to plow snow.

If it’s not all spent, the savings roll over into the next budget cycle.

But for private contractors who count on snow plowing as part of their annual revenue, the lack of snow is challenging.

“You’ll go months without any snow. You can’t have any employees; you don’t know what’s going on. And then, it will snow, and everybody wants everything done right now, right this second,” Matwich said. “It’s really hard to schedule all that.”

The private contractor wants it to snow so he can get paid to plow commercial parking lots.

The public works director wants it to snow so reservoirs fill and fire danger is reduced.

But for now, they both wait for mother nature to cooperate.

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