Mat-Su home snow removal scofflaws now receiving warning letters

PALMER — Matanuska-Susitna Borough officials have sent more than 150 warning letters to residents accused of violating a rule blocking homeowners from pushing snow from private property into public roads.

The letters are a first step in a borough effort to reduce the volume of snow illegally plowed into area roads, a problem known as “homeowner snow.”

The new borough initiative comes after five of the six road maintenance contractors in charge of clearing neighborhoods submitted $7.1 million in extra invoices for the time it took to clear homeowner snow over last winter. The borough has yet to reach a settlement on most of those claims.

The vast majority of the infraction letters were sent immediately after a major storm moved through the region early this month, dumping near-record amounts of wet, heavy snow, said borough manager Mike Brown.

Under borough policy, homeowners who are documented as pushing snow out of their yards and into roads are sent two warning letters before receiving an official citation, which carries a $150 fine, according to code enforcement officials. Violators are reported by plow operators, borough inspectors or residents using an online problem reporter, Brown said.

Borough code violations and fines are processed through the Alaska Court System.

The letters, which first went out Nov. 13, are focused on educating homeowners about the rules before fines are levied, borough code enforcement officials said.


The borough Assembly in early October approved a measure making it more cost-effective to send such letters. In past seasons, sending notices cost roughly $8 per letter under a borough law requiring they be sent by certified mail, said Alex Strawn, the borough’s planning and land use director. The Assembly in early October passed a measure approving the use of regular priority mail instead.

Meanwhile, three of the borough’s private road contractors who remain embroiled in a billing dispute over the extra invoices submitted for homeowner snow removal from the 2022-23 season have continued to plow their assigned areas despite not receiving those payments, they said.

Officials with Big Lake-based Ficklin Construction and Wasilla-based Big Dipper Construction, which service more than 400 miles of borough roads through seven road service area contracts, said they have thus far declined two borough settlement offers. Borough officials confirmed Spain Excavating, which holds a service contract for Trapper Creek, has also not accepted a settlement.

The first settlement, which was accepted in September by only one of the contractors who submitted an overage bill, offered a 20% boost against the value of the road service contracts backdated to Jan. 1, with a requirement that the contractors file no more overage bills going forward.

A second offer further boosted the back payments by thousands of dollars, but was also rejected by all but one additional contractor because it still rejected future overage bills, officials with Ficklin Construction and Big Dipper Construction said.

Citing attorney-client privilege, borough officials said they could not comment on the ongoing dispute, which has been the subject of a series of closed-door sessions with borough Assembly members.

Amy Bushatz

Amy Bushatz is a veteran journalist based in the Mat-Su covering Valley news for the ADN.