Winter Weather Eating Away At City Budgets - ABC5 News Des Moines, IA

Winter Weather Eating Away At City Budgets

Posted: Updated:

By: Claire Powell
cpowell@myabc5.com
@clairenpowell 

 

When winter weather strikes and roads turn dangerous, public works departments are in their plows and trucks working overtime. Working overtime means spending money on maintenance, equipment and labor.

This winter, public works departments have had a constant battle with ice removal and are starting to watch their budgets dwindle.

"We try to manage out budgets and make sure we have funds available but every year, it's a difficult thing," said Dave Cubit, Johnston Public Works Director. "It's getting to the point where we'll keep tabs on it a little closer."

Cubit said Johnston has used up to 75% of its' winter budget already. A majority of that percentage has gone towards fixing their plows and trucks.

"We've used over 90% of that budget for maintenance of equipment, so the type of winter we've had has been hard on the equipment," said Cubit.

Des Moines Public Works Director Pat Kozitza said they've also used about 65% of their $3.2 million budget. Kozitza says they've been in a constant battle to keep roads free of ice.

"There's been a lot more ice in between that and it takes a lot more materials to treat that," said Kozitza.

Thankfully, in Grimes there are two massive storage units, full of salt reserves. If one of the handful of cities that contribute to the reserve runs out of salt, they can use their portion.

One of the units, that's owned by Des Moines, can hold 10,000 tons of salt. The other, owned by multiple cities, can hold up to 12,000 tons.

"It gives us a 50% reserve, so that's very helpful," said Cubit.

"We always overstock, but it looks like we'll run right into the end of the stock this year. We'd like to carry some over from an expense stand point, but if we have to use it we will and we have," said Kozitza.

Friday morning, trucks were already spreading brine on the roadways to prevent Friday night's snowfall from sticking.

Both Kozitza and Cubit said despite using a majority of their funds before February has begun, they're confident their budgets will make it through the rest of the winter season. 

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