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|02-13-03: Add lots of salt
|Mercer County is spending more this year to clear roads
By SEAN RICE
The Daily Standard
With snow falling at least once every week, and more on the way for
tomorrow, road salt is drying up the budgets of local and county street departments.
"We're spending more money on salt than we'd like to,"
reported Mercer County Engineer Jim Wiechart early Tuesday.
That night it snowed again, sending the county's total bill for this
season's snowfall to more than $250,000, which includes the regular hourly costs for the
crew, overtime and salt costs.
The high snow removal and salting costs take away money from the
county's roadway improvement budget, the engineer said. Less roads can be resurfaced, and
fewer road culverts and bridges get attention during the project season between April and
Wiechart said the snow budget hasn't dripped into other street funds in
the last two years.
"It happens once in a while, but you have to deal with it,"
The tree trimming program also suffers when snow removal costs start to
rise. The engineer said each year his crew creates a list of trees with branches nearing
the roadway to be trimmed.
"We haven't even made a dent in that list yet," Wiechart
said. "I hate to see that. I get kind of frustrated because I want us to do
everything we can."
Typically the county gets 2,000 tons of salt, which is mixed with grit
to make the road mixture. Already the county has ordered another 400 tons of salt.
"We may need another 400 tons before the season's out, if we keep
getting our weekly snow," Wiechart said.
In Celina, another shipment arrived at the salt bunkers Wednesday.
Celina Safety Service Director Mike Sovinski calculated that nearly
$30,000 of city money has been spent on purchasing salt this season, including Wednesday's
In the 2000-2001 snow season, $18,000 was spent on buying salt. During
2001-2002, $20,000 was spent on salt.
Celina Auditor Pat Smith said $12,100 has been spent on overtime for
city road crews. The amount of regular wages paid to the crew during snow season wasn't
The increase in salt spending will result in less money for other
street cleaning and repair duties, Sovinski said.
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