You Paid for It: Snow Removal - Part 2

You Paid for It: Snow Removal - Part 2

On average, about 40 winter weather events hit Wisconsin between November and March.
(WFRV) - On average, about 40 winter weather events hit Wisconsin between November and March.

We are not even to the end of February and Storm Team 5 has counted almost 50 days with measurable snowfall.

"We have been very busy" says Tony Fietzer, Street Superintendent for the City of Green Bay.

Outagamie County Highway Commissioner Al Geurts agrees  saying " It has been an extremely long winter so far".

Local highway departments and public works crews are averaging 80 hour work weeks to keep roads safe.

"A little bit of overtime is certainly appreciated but there are certain events like nights, weekends and holidays that they would rather be at home with their families" Geurts says talking about his staff.

Taxpayer funded snow removal costs are running about double that of a normal year.

"In Wisconsin the people who have come before me are pretty smart and they have budgeted a certain amount of overtime into the annual budget" explains Robert Bousley, Brown County Public Works Operations Manager.  

Outagamie County spent $1.2 million dollars in December and January plowing county highways.

Typically each month only costs $300,000.

The Green Bay Department of Public Works spent $51,875 in overtime so far this winter, significantly more than the $39,461 spent during the same time period last winter.

However, those numbers do not relate entirely to snow removal.

"We have had a lot of one to two inch snowfalls this year which has put a toll not only on our fuel cost, our salt costs, equipment costs and employee time" Fietzer says.

Outagamie County has used 14,000 tons of salt twice what they use in a normal winter.

Brown County is in a similar situation.

"It does take a toll. I bought 6,000 ton leading up to the season. I have used that and am purchasing more" Bousley explains.

"We  switched over to a salt sand mix a couple of weeks ago just to have enough to get us through the winter" says Geurts.

Maintenance costs are also up.

According to Geurts "It has been very trying. A lot of long hours. Hard on the machinery when you do not get enough of a break to get it in and serviced, greased, washed down, things like that".

Taxpayers are also footing the bill to account for careless drivers.

"We have had several trucks hit this year, just because either people are not paying attention, and mainly it is because of the speed" Bousley says.

Because we are only two months into 2014, the panic alarm is not sounding yet.

However, if we get significant snow in March, cuts may be coming.  

"Maybe in the summertime its less paving, a little less construction or some other maintenance activity gets cut" Geurts says.  

To save your dollars Green Bay is always testing new products.

"We have tried different snowplow blades on our units. Different vendors to see if they give a better cut, better edge, better lifetime" explains Fietzer.

The City of Appleton Public Works Director tells Local 5 the community is about halfway through its entire snow and ice budget for 2014 of $1.2 million.

To see part one of our series click here.

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