As a transplant to Utah who grew up in Minnesota, Meg Walter’s March 2 opinion piece on the weather (and apparent lack of wintertime resilience) gave me a chuckle. I’ve sniffled more than once about the “Greatest snow on earth’s” disappointing inability to stick around for longer than a couple days.

However, once I stopped indulging myself with the virtues of my superior Midwestern winter grit, I realized she did have at least one valid point. You see, while snowstorms generally aren’t as bad or as frequent in Utah, they do tend to cause more problems driving than equivalent storms in Minnesota.

So, I did an informal case study. I grew up in Lakeville, Minnesota, and now live in Orem. According to the Lakeville government website and Orem city website, Lakeville has about 600 lane miles of road, Orem 529 (13% less). Orem also has about 40% more residents (72,000 vs 97,000), and a smaller 2023 city budget by 14% ($140 million vs. $160 million, which is about $2,200 a resident vs $1,400).

The city of Lakeville has 24 large plow trucks. Orem has five. Lakeville has 13 other smaller trucks with plows, Orem has 10. Lakeville has a dedicated 2023 snow removal line item in its budget of $1,010,555. I couldn’t find the words “snow” or “plow” in the 2023 Orem budget, but the entire streets budget is $1,760,079 (the storm water budget may be involved as well).

This is not a dig against Orem or the Utah Department of Transportation: I think they do a great job and are well managed. In general, I think that Utahns get exactly the government they want — lower taxes, tighter budgets and more limited services.

Lakeville spends more on snow removal because they have to — the snow that falls in October will still be there in April unless pushed out of the way. It may not even make sense for Utah to invest in more plows that will just sit idle.

But don’t blame the weather when lower taxes haven’t bought enough plows.

Jayden Milne