New Albany News

Nemec: Hard winter increased costs for service department


New Albany's public-services department spent $40,000 more on rock salt this winter and crews logged more overtime this year related to 35 "snow events," according to the department's director, Mark Nemec.

Nemec reported to New Albany City Council on March 18 that the city has used 3,097 tons of rock salt, at a total cost of $159,793, this winter.

In the 2012-13 winter, the city used 1,887 tons of salt and paid $110,333 to handle 27 "snow events." The city paid $58.47 per ton in 2012-13 and has paid $48.69 per ton this winter, according to Nemec's records.

The department's road crews also have put in more hours this winter. The city has seven service workers and one supervisor available on each of two shifts.

Nemec said crews worked 1,536 hours on regular time and 1,382 hours of overtime this season. In the 2012-13 winter, crews worked 1,425 hours on regular time and 887 hours of overtime.

The city has spent $144,860.51 in wages this winter on regular hours worked and overtime, said city spokesman Scott McAfee. The city paid workers $89,253.90 in regular hours and overtime for the 2012-13 winter season and $44,578 in 2011-12.

Nemec said he's still on budget, based on conservative estimates he used when figuring how much the winter would cost the city.

He said the 2013-14 figures include salary increases and any increase from changes in benefits packages.

McAfee said public-services staff members are part of a collective bargaining unit, United Steelworkers 9110. They received a 3 percent raise in November 2013 after union negotiations were complete, but it was not retroactive to the beginning of the year.

McAfee said members of United Steelworkers 9110 also received a 2.5 percent raise in January 2014.

In related news, City Council on March 18 unanimously voted to authorize City Manager Joe Stefanov to participate in the state contract to purchase rock salt that would be delivered this summer.

Nemec said the city has 1,200 tons left in the salt barn and still has the right to purchase 1,400 tons. He estimated the city used 100 tons per snow event.

He said city officials hope to get a better price with the summer delivery, which will be between May and October.