By JOY BROWN
This year’s brutal winter cost Findlay government more than $130,000 for additional utility costs, vehicle repairs and overtime.
Bills that administrators and department heads supplied to The Courier show the Public Works Department had the most expenses. Plowing snow resulted in significantly more overtime for workers, and wear and tear on vehicles.
“Remember, 2013 was a mild winter with few storms, while 2014 was one of the worst winters in Ohio history,” said Public Works Superintendent Matt Stoffel. “Our people were constantly battling the winter of 2014.”
Findlay’s Water Pollution Control Center recorded 38.6 inches of snowfall from January through April, compared to 11.2 inches during those months in 2013. The daily temperature also consistently dipped much lower, said center Supervisor Dave Beach.
From January through April, Public Works had $159,644 in costs directly attributed to weather. That represents a $125,837 increase from the previous year.
Truck springs, transmission work, and plow and spreader repairs cost $49,435. Overtime and call-outs totaled $54,114, and $56,095 was spent on fuel.
The Water Department didn’t see a significant increase in its winter electric bill, but natural gas costs rose $4,865.
The Water Pollution Control Center paid $3,234 more for electricity.
At the Municipal Building, electric bills actually dropped by $5,742, but natural gas costs increased by $3,980.
Service-Safety Director Paul Schmelzer said the city is absorbing some of the costs gradually as it receives bills and pays them.
“The Street Department budget will be most affected,” Schmelzer said. “We will have some adjustments to be made at the end of the year. I have looked in general and have told them (department heads) that we would evaluate at mid-year budget because there may be opportunities to transfer funds within departments instead of an allocation. Any allocations would be done in fourth quarter.”
The city at times took its own preventive advice.
“Precautions were taken during the extreme cold, like dripping water faucets overnight,” Schmelzer said.
Workers are continuing to patch numerous potholes that were created during the coldest months.
“We have had crews out constantly whenever possible with cold mix and the Dura-Patch machine. We patch the problem areas we have work orders on and call-in complaints, and crews patch as they see troubled areas,” Stoffel said.
“We use the Dura-Patch machine whenever possible and weather permitting. This is a machine that fills holes more efficiently and holds longer than the cold mix material. We usually start this machine patching around April or May when we can get tar and the weather is more permitting.”
“We will also be crack sealing streets again to add some longevity to the pavement,” Stoffel said.