A hard winter has pushed Union County's costs for snow removal well into six figures.

A hard winter has pushed Union County's costs for snow removal well into six figures.

Union County engineer Jeff Stauch said last week that following February's heavy snows, the cost for the county's clean up efforts is approaching the half-million-dollar mark.

"We have totaled up our snow and ice costs to date, and looking at the whole season (from December until now), our expenses are a little over $400,000 right now," Stauch said. "With that we're looking at material costs, labor which includes overtime, equipment, fuel - all of those things go into the mix."

While the past few weeks have seen extensive snowfall, Stauch said the county experienced an additional $30,000 in costs for its last pay period alone.

"For the whole season, we've had about 2,800 hours of overtime," Stauch said. "We budget for overtime each year, but you never know what you're going to get in terms of weather. We tend to budget conservatively, but we're probably around 40 to 50 percent of our budget to date.

"We'll expect to feel some of that in construction season this year."

Stauch said that Union County has quite a few miles of roadways that have to be handled when an excess of snow makes conditions difficult for drivers.

"Each of our plow drivers has a zone he's responsible for, which vary in miles, but on average most of those drivers are responsible for somewhere between 40 and 55 miles of road," Stauch said. "We have 17 primary routes. If you look at that as lane miles, and we do some of the plowing for the county's townships, that's about 1,050 lane miles that we're responsible for. When you look at a driver making his rounds, he might have 60 lane miles to clear, and with the drifting we've had recently, by the time he loops back it might look like it was never plowed to begin with."

Stauch said that although this winter has hit the county pretty hard, thankfully two feet of snow is an exception in Ohio, rather than the rule.

"We always expect a certain amount here, but we're pretty fortunate not to have these sort of expenses every single year," he said. "This will eat into what we can do road-wise in the summer, but the credit goes to the guys out on the plows. They've done a very good job dealing with this, and they should be proud of themselves."