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Snow removal costs up 970%

Above average snowfall this winter caused the Stark County Road Department to spend 970 percent more than average last month on snow removal and maintenance.

Above average snowfall this winter caused the Stark County Road Department to spend 970 percent more than average last month on snow removal and maintenance.

To help cover costs, Stark County Emergency Manager, Gary Kostelecky declared a snow emergency Tuesday.

Gov. Hoeven issued an executive order to assist communities, said Todd Miller, Richardton road foreman.

Kostelecky said North Dakota is eligible for $1.5 million to help cover the cost of snow removal. If Stark County qualifies, the state would pay 50 percent of what was spent last month.

The county is well over the criteria needed for the amount of money spent -- which must be 200 percent of a five-year average -- but it's unclear whether there has been enough snow fall.

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Stark County Road Superintendent Al Heiser said Dickinson got much less snow than other areas of the county.

The average snow depth in the county over the past five years is four inches, according to Kostelecky. In order to qualify for extra funds, it has to be at 400 percent of that, or 16 inches.

"In the Dickinson area, we're at eight inches of snow depth," Miller said. "In Richardton, we're at 16 inches of snow depth."

Kostelecky said the National Weather Service listed the county as receiving only eight inches of snow, but the official recordings in Richardton were at 16 inches. The county now must wait while their declaration is considered.

If the Richardton snowfall makes the county eligible, Kostelecky said 50 percent of the costs used for the entire county will be paid out.

Kostelecky said more funds may be made if Stark County qualifies for funds now. He added the Federal Emergency Management Association and the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services start their first round of reviews today. He is unsure when any decisions will be made.

If the funds are not available, the county would have to absorb the excess costs. Heiser said that could delay future road projects.

More than 20 counties in North Dakota have declared snow emergencies and two counties are considering it.

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