A record-setting month of snow is putting a strain on city plowing and salting budgets. Finding a place to put all the snow is a challenge as well. Owatonna Mayor Tom Kuntz and Public Works Director/City Engineer Kyle Skov spoke on KRFO radio about efforts to take care of the growing snowbanks and how residents can help.

Drivers need to realize that city streets will narrow a bit due to the series of storms that have rolled through leading to a snowfall record. He said it's difficult for the plows to get the snow over snowbanks and people should be patient and drive carefully. If residents find a road or intersection that needs special attention, they can contact the Public Works Department at 507-444-4350. If someone needs to contact the department outside of its business hours, they can call the non-emergency dispatch line.

Skov said that occasionally mailboxes get knocked down. If that is due to a city plow striking the box, the city can offer reimbursement or replacement within certain limits. If a mailbox is knocked over due to snow buildup, the owner is responsible.

Another way residents can assist the street department is by making sure their garbage and recycling bins stay in the driveway. Skov said as they encroach on the street, plows are hindered and streets can become even more narrow.

Snow from the business district and other high traffic areas is trucked to several locations including the race track at the Steele County Fairgrounds and is an expensive operation.

Skov said the street department will pull people from other city departments to assist during big snow events. He said higher volume streets take top priority followed by residential streets and cul-de-sacs then trails, but it can vary depending on available equipment and manpower.

The City of Owatonna has an allotment of 1,000 tons of salt for the year. Skov says they have already gone above and beyond that amount. He said warmer than average weather in January led to some slippery intersections that needed treatment. He says they will find more salt as needed.

He reminded residents that residential sidewalks should be taken care within 48 hours of snowfall while in business areas the time expectation is 24 hours. Owatonna received about 6-8 inches of snow from the February 20 storm with another storm forecast for the weekend.

Kuntz indicated that several people have shared compliments with him on the work the plow drivers are doing and that they appreciate their long hours of dedication.

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