Towns holding own with road clean-up
It seems that we've had one winter storm after another and that pattern isn't changing any time soon.
Despite the combination of constant snow and brutally cold temperatures, most local municipalities seem to be in good shape with finances and road materials.
That's because some municipalities had excess anti-skid materials from last year's mild winter, and because none of the storms have been major ones.
Snow hasn't impacted budgets because the majority of the storms occurred in January when new yearly budgets just begin.
David R. Albright, township manager for Chestnuthill Township in Monroe County, said there hasn't been any negative impact so far on road materials or on the budget.
"Not to this point," he said.
"We do put in a budget an amount that would usually take us through Dec. 31," he said. "The majority of storms generally happen in January or February, but we have seen some in March and April. If we keep getting storms once or twice a week for the duration of winter, it could impact us. But at this point we're OK."
Lehighton borough manager Nicole Beckett said, "We're doing OK. We have a contract for road materials and right now we have 50 tons left to order. So we're good to go."
She agreed that the storms do impact the budget.
"It's costly," she said. "It is definitely costly between the materials and overtime."
For the past month, the borough has paid more than $15,550 for road salt.
"It is excessive," she admits of the recent wintry weather.
Beckett said the borough has budgeted $20,000 in 2014 for materials and supplies, but "We've come in low over the past couple of years on line items, so we should be OK."
Natalie Haggerty, township secretary in Mahoning, responded about the stockpile of winter road maintenance materials being impacted by the recent storms.
"No. Goodness no," Haggerty said.
"The past couple of winters have been mild," she said, letting the township accumulate materials.
She said that even the overtime hasn't been too bad.
"Our road crew works with us," she said, noting that they try not to accumulate more overtime hours than is necessary.
In Franklin Township, secretary Brenda Neeb commented, "We still have enough supply of road materials. We spent more than anticipated and used more than anticipated, but didn't spend all the money yet."
This is because the 2014 budget just got under way.
"Our road foreman continually orders more," Neeb said, to replace the amounts used and prevent shortages of road materials.
"Right now it's not too bad," said Kira Steber, borough secretary. "We haven't exceeded the salt limit but it is getting close."
Last week during a meeting of the Polk Township supervisors, it was announced that the township is close to using its winter allotment of road materials. Almost 300 tons have been used so far.
Officials in the city of Bethlehem also have been complaining about the dwindling inventory of road materials for the winter conditions.
Ron Young, deputy press secretary for District 5-0 of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, said PennDOT has no shortages of materials.
"PennDOT has guaranteed contracts with vendors to replenish salt and anti-skid material supplies," he said.
"PennDOT will work out any budget issues and can't speculate yet on specifics, but overall will continue to provide winter services and fix potholes, and thanks to the transportation funding plan, people will see more paving and bridge projects this year," he added, regarding the costs involved in winter maintenance.
"While it has been a harsh winter, as far as the budget goes it averages out in the long term," Young said.
To prepare the annual winter budget, he said PennDOT averages the winter costs from the past five years.