Relatively mild winter a blessing to municipalities

2013-03-30T17:11:00Z Relatively mild winter a blessing to municipalitiesGregory Tejeda Times Correspondent
March 30, 2013 5:11 pm  • 

There is at least one group of people to whom this winter season’s relatively mild weather has been bad news — public works employees who are called upon to clear snow and de-ice the streets.

As the mayors of Calumet City and Lansing see it, those workers did not have to work excess hours at odd times requiring overtime pay.

“I’m sure the workers who would have liked to get some extra money aren’t happy,” said Lansing Village President Norm Abbott.

While Calumet City Mayor Michelle Markiewicz Qualkinbush said, “I don’t know the final figure, but I’m sure we’re not going to pay out as much overtime this winter as we normally would.”

Both public officials concede the relative lack of major snowstorms has had financial benefits that will turn up on their bottom lines this fiscal year.

Aside from paying less overtime, both Abbott and Qualkinbush said their municipalities have been able to reduce their purchases of salt used to de-ice the streets.

Abbott said he believes Lansing will save between $80,000 to $90,000 in salt purchases this winter. He said that is a compounded savings because salt purchases for last year’s equally mild winter also were down.

“It’s giving our budget a savings that we can use,” Abbott said.

Qualkinbush was not able to say how much money Calumet City’s Public Works Department was saving in salt purchases, but said, “I know for a fact I’m not approving as many requisitions for salt this winter as I normally would.”

Although the mayor said people should not presume that salt is something that can be stockpiled from year to year. “All it takes is one heavy rain and the salt can be ruined,” she said.

Abbott said it benefits Lansing that Public Works crews did not have to spend as much time clearing streets of snow, since it means they can devote time to other projects in the village.

Qualkinbush pointed out a benefit to keeping snow-removal costs down is that money from state motor fuel tax revenues that would have paid for removal can be used for more local streets maintenance in the warmer months.

“We’ll be able to put the money right back into repairs, that benefits the taxpayers,” Qualkinbush said.

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