KAYSVILLE — Some Kaysville residents are so angry over the city's experimental snow-removal program that they're not even seeing red. They're seeing white. White, as in streets that weren't plowed until two days after Saturday's snowstorm.
City manager John Thacker said residents who have called and e-mailed to complain about the program easily outnumber those who are in favor of it as a cost-cutting measure.
But some residents are applauding the program because the city had gone over its snow-removal budget by $125,000 during the previous winter.
This year, in light of the the previous heavy winter, a recent $50,000 tax increase and projected budget shortfalls, the Kaysville City Council asked city staff to be innovative about how to save money.
During Tuesday's council meeting, the council and Thacker spent an hour discussing the plan to save money on salt and overtime shifts by plowing less.
Saturday's storm, the first this winter, dropped snow from Ogden to Provo, sometimes snarling traffic.
But during a storm that normally would have seen the Kaysville plows out in force, the city managed to save $7,000 by only plowing major roads. The city began plowing the rest of the streets on Monday, but some streets were never attended to.
By Tuesday, much of the snow had melted off, and few ice-packed streets could be found in the city.
Here's how the experiment works:
The city will plow only major roads if storms happen during non-working hours — weekends and nights. The rest of the streets will be plowed during regular working hours.
Residents can download a copy of those major routes from the city's Web site at kaysvillecity.com.
If 4 inches of snow or more fall, the city will begin plowing all streets, so plows won't have to redo the same areas.
When salt will be effective, it will be applied to the road, and the city plans to pay more attention to steeper streets and critical locations.
Some residents are crying foul, saying the city could leave itself liable by purposefully not plowing roads. If the plows can't keep up with the weather, that's one thing, they say.
"Every time we change things, people look for someone to blame because it's different," Thacker said, noting it's up to residents to drive safely no matter what the conditions are.
"The first thing you do is slow down," he said. "Everybody is responsible for how they behave."
Sometimes, residents might not have a choice.
Ron Johnson told the council his son crashed a family car into a fire hydrant Monday night at 9 p.m. after losing control on an icy road that hadn't been plowed. His son was being cautious, Johnson said, because he had been a passenger in a high-speed crash over the weekend in Salt Lake City.
A simple trip to pick up a sibling from work resulted in a damaged car and fire hydrant.
But that could have been a child on the sidewalk, Johnson said.
"It's a responsibility of yours to keep us safe," Johnson told the council, adding that he's concerned about what will happen to his insurance if he's forced to pay for the damaged car as well as the fire hydrant.
Police officers who came to the family's home declined to cite Johnson's son in the crash.
Councilman Steve Hiatt asked Thacker at what point will city staff reassess it's plowing plan.
"We'll improvise continuously," Thacker said. "It'll be a work in progress."
The council promised to be sensitive to residents' concerns, and Councilman Gil Miller apologized to anyone in the city who's had a difficult time in the snow.
"We're going to try to do our best in financially difficult times to save money," he said, adding that the council will try to find other places in the budget to save money as well.