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updated: 4/16/2014 12:39 PM

Winter blows Batavia snow removal budget for 2014

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  • Joe Barkei of the Batavia Public Works Department removes snow drifts in January from Millview Drive that had covered the street parking.

       Joe Barkei of the Batavia Public Works Department removes snow drifts in January from Millview Drive that had covered the street parking.
    Rick West | Staff Photographer

 
 

Wintry weather has put a $239,000 beatdown on Batavia's snow removal operations in just the first three months of the 2014 fiscal year.

The city council's committee of the whole Tuesday agreed to amend the street division's budget to allot the additional money for overtime and double time pay the rest of the year, more money to pay the private crews that clear downtown sidewalks and city lots, and more money to buy salt and de-icer.

Superintendent Scott Haines said the division has used almost all of the $65,000 it budgeted for overtime pay for the year, and will likely need another $35,000 for the rest. The double time budget is already gone, and he estimates another $52,000 should be allotted. The contractual services line should be bumped up by $22,000.

As for salt and de-icer, the city spent its entire budget, and then some, to buy supplies. By the end of February, according to a financial report, it had spent $169,309, or 105 percent, of what was budgeted. The budget amendment of $130,000 would cover this season's overage and to buy supplies in the fall to have on hand for next winter.

As of this week it had 700 tons of salt left in storage.

Haines said it didn't help that many of the snow events happened on weekends or holidays, including New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, and were multiday events. Workers are paid more on holidays, or if they are ordered to work beyond a normal eight-hour shift. There were 14 weekends in a row where crews had to work at least a Saturday or Sunday, he said.

The city used 600 tons of salt in December, and 3,000 tons January through March, he said. Typically, it goes through 120 tons of salt per inch of snow, he said, but it used less during the super cold weather of early January, when salt isn't as effective. The division's snow gauge measured 76 inches for the season.

Alderman Nick Cerone, acknowledging there were "extenuating circumstances," asked if spending could be cut elsewhere in the division to make up for the overruns. Haines said he thought the budget was pretty lean, that later in the season the division tried to spread less salt and de-icer per snow inch than in the past, and that sometimes it delayed plowing lower priority areas such as cul-de-sacs to weekdays to avoid extra labor costs.

The department might need to pay overtime and double time if there are emergencies in warm weather, such as storm cleanup or floods.

"It just had to be said," Cerone said.

At the same meeting, Haines asked permission to spend $100,000 -- up from $65,000 -- on filling pavement cracks this year, saying the winter had exacerbated the problem. The council agreed on the new amount.

Both measures will be voted on at Monday's city council meeting.

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