Steamboat Springs Downtown business owners said they have yet to feel the pains of the city's belt tightening.
At October's budget hearing, the City Council made the decision not to remove snow piles on the sidewalks of Lincoln Avenue after every snowstorm, but to do it every two to three weeks.
Since 1998, the city has been removing the snow from Steamboat's main street as soon as it was plowed. Doing so less frequently saves the city about $55,000 a year, City Manager Paul Hughes said.
When the council made the decision, it expected complaints to follow. But many business owners on Lincoln Avenue said the decrease in snow removal has not caused that many problems.
"I haven't really noticed the difference and I haven't heard any complaints," said Kevin King, manager of All That Jazz. "But there does seem to be more snow in front of the store."
City Public Works Director Jim Weber said when the first major storm hit Steamboat in December, people noticed the shift in the city's policy.
"There was a flurry of inquiries before Christmas and then things kind of tapered off a little," Weber said.
The new two- to three-week interval between snow removals on Lincoln Avenue is not a rigid time frame, Weber said. He pointed to Friday's snowfall and said it would not be enough to bring the snow removal crews out. But if snow continued until Tuesday, as forecast, then he predicted sidewalks could be cleared by next Friday.
"It depends how (snow) events come together," Weber said. "After (Friday's) storm, there is not enough to remove it. We just don't have the money in the budget."
All city departments made 2 percent cuts to their budgets in October; the public works department reduced its funding by cutting back on snow removal, summer paving and drainage maintenance.
"Right now, (sidewalk snow removal) is probably just the beginning of added services that we provide that we may pull out of the budget," Hughes said.
In 1997, the city decided to upgrade its snow removal to clear streets after every major snow event. That increased the city budget by $85,000 because the city had to contract trucks, equipment and drivers. Over the years, Hughes said, the number has been cut down to around $55,000.
Sheryl Leslie, owner of Mango Clothing Co. on Lincoln Avenue, said she understands the city's need to cut costs.
"Belts have to be tightened. And if they do, I'd rather that than bigger taxes," Leslie said.
Jerry Kozatch, who owns Ambiente Home Furnishings & Gifts Inc., said the city has been doing a good job but not removing snow from the streets could be a safety issue.
He said because of mounting snow piles, cars have to park about 2 feet away from the curb, which places them in a lane of traffic. Then, people have to walk along the street through the traffic until they reach the corner.
"I think not taking the snow off the sidewalk is a very dangerous situation. It makes it impossible for people to get out of cars and get on the sidewalk," Kozatch said.
Bob McCullough, owner of Boggs Hardware, said store employees shovel pathways through the snow banks, just like they did before the change was made in 1997.
"We know it is going to snow here in the winter," McCullough said. "But we haven't heard of any problems."