Plow now, pay later?
One of the biggest snowstorms in history has area public works departments examining their snow removal budgets.
The city of Janesville budgeted $800,000 in 2008 for snow removal, enough to clean up after six to eight snowstorms.
By last Monday, it had already gone through three or four storms, said Jack Messer, public works director. And that’s not including Tuesday and Wednesday’s historic snowfall.
“Up to this point, we’re probably just under halfway through our budget for ’08,” Messer said Wednesday. “That’s not including today. Today could be a monster.”
When it comes to snow removal, the city has a “plow now, pay later” policy. It’s still figuring out how to pay off the $700,000 it overspent on 2007’s snow removal budget.
“The snow’s going to get plowed within the guidelines we generally plow,” Messer said. “What we’ll have to do is analyze where we’re at the end of the year.”
The city of Milton is starting to rethink its snow removal budget, City Administrator Todd Schmidt said.
“The city will be carefully reviewing where the budget is at and determining what, if any, actions to take,” he said.
The Walworth County plow budget and salt supply is still in good shape, despite having crews out nearly every weekend since Dec. 1, county officials reported.
The county switched to a salt-sand mixture about two weeks ago to stretch the supply of more expensive salt, Public Works Superintendent Mark Mullikin said.
Monthly costs for the mixture are about $50,000 compared to a $150,000 if pure salt was being put down everywhere, said Sandy Kulik, business office manager.
The county is using the mixture on county highways. State highways and Interstate 43 still are receiving salt-only treatments as required.
The county budgeted $997,980 for the winter plow season. From Nov. 1 until last Monday, the county has spent about $673,000, Kulik said.
The extra busy season has cost the county about $47,000 in overtime wages, including $27,0000 from January until now, Kulik said. The county budgets about $120,000 for plowing-related overtime.