As snow falls, city expenses go up
As winter snow continued to fall on Reynoldsburg in early February, the city's expenses for salt and street-clearing are adding up.
Service Director Nathan Burd said city crews sometimes work "around the clock" to clear main arterial streets.
He said the city used nearly 844 tons of salt from Dec. 21, 2012 to Jan. 25, at a cost of just under $50,000.
This winter has been challenging, Burd said, because many of the latest storms have been "borderline."
"We have had two to three inches here and there lately, after having that really heavy storm right after Christmas where we had nearly a foot of snow," he said.
Burd said the city does not plow residential streets unless more than three inches of snow fall, but salt trucks are typically out on arterial streets soon after a storm begins.
"The trucks work around the clock as needed," he said. "Overtime hours are another expense we have to factor in, but we want to keep the streets safe. It typically takes 18 to 20 hours for our trucks to do the whole city."
Burd said arterial streets include Main Street, state Route 256, Taylor Road, Waggoner Road, Rosehill Road, Brice Road, Livingston Avenue, Lancaster Avenue, Graham Road and Palmer Road.
Second to arterial streets would be "collector residential streets," for example, Haft Drive, Retton Road, Bartlett Road, Birchview Drive, Baldwin Road, Kingsley Drive, Priestley Drive, Firstgate Drive, Slate Ridge and Farmsbury Drive.
"The arterial and collector streets are always the main priority because they are the most heavily traveled streets in the city," Burd said. "We typically go deeper into the neighborhoods after more than three inches of snow have fallen.
"Other factors, including the forecast, come into play as well," he said. "A few Fridays ago, we had about three inches of snow, but the five-day forecast had two 60-degree days and the snow melted naturally very quickly."
Burd said Reynoldsburg has two salt barns and keeps seven city trucks at a street department building at 7806 E. Main St.
In the city's snowstorm report summary, the total cost of salt and man-hours was only $11,531 in 2006, which the report summarized as the "second-warmest January on record. Averaged 15 degrees above normal."
The city used only 263 tons of salt in 2006, compared with 1,954 tons the next year, with a total cost for salt and man-hours in 2007 of $113,978. Notes for 2007 state that 30 inches of snow fell on the city that winter; February was the fifth-coldest on record and April 1-15 was the second-coldest period on record.
Salt use was 1,973 tons in 2011, with a total cost of salt and crew man-hours coming in at $138,778.
Totals at the end of 2012 were $83,405 for salt and man-hours for the year.
The 2013 totals won't be finalized until the last day of December, but the cold temperatures and frequent snowstorms so far mean city crews will definitely be out on the streets, Burd said.
He said residents can help with street clearing by parking their cars in driveways and off residential streets when snow fall amounts to more than three inches so city trucks can efficiently plow the streets.