Snow removal costs could have ripple effect on budgets

County engineers preparing for snow

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) If winter of 2015 continues the way it has been the last few weeks, local governments are going to be seeing some big overtime bills.

Although November and December were relatively mild months this season, things have turned around dramatically the past six weeks, with a number of snow and freezing rain events. So far this week alone, workers with the Mahoning County Engineer have worked overtime every day since Sunday and other departments are in the same predicament.

“I think we are always concerned about the budgets in regards to the street department, but our main concern is making sure that the citizens are safe and secure, and the streets are passable and the streets are operable on a daily basis,” Youngstown Buildings and Grounds Commissioner Sean McKinney said.

Officials we spoke with said while they are still working within the overtime budgets they have for the year, if expenses continue to grow, funding for other projects such as street paving and grass cutting could be reduced to make up the difference.

“We only have a budget of a little over a million total for the year for public works. That includes your catch basin cleaning, your brush pickup, street sweeping, just the routine number of things that the public works department does,” Canfield City Manager Joe Warino said. “A little ahead of the game this year. But with this weekend’s ice storm predicted, we may be caught up by where we were last year.”

In January, Canfield’s Public Works Department spent $18,000 in overtime clearing roads. Mahoning County’s Engineer paid about $21,000 and in Youngstown, the bill was $57,000, all less than January of last year. But already this month, Youngstown has seen $13,000 in street department overtime.

“We have got some pretty hefty overtime coming this month and it is still early,” Mahoning County Engineer Pat Ginnetti said.

He said February expenses won’t be known until later in the month, but crews have been on overtime every day this week to start the month.

“Six a.m. Sunday morning, the crews started coming out and we have been running full crews pretty much since then,” Ginnetti said.

Warino said it is the ice this year that is hurting his department’s budget the most.

Besides the overtime, officials are also concerned about maintaining their salt supplies, which Ginnetti said costs about 500 percent more than last year.

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