Governments save money with warm weather

Alex Doty • Jul 21, 2015 at 11:26 AM

“We’re still on a winter watch until mid-April,” Road Commission Managing Director Brett Laughlin said.

The Road Commission has $5 million budgeted for winter maintenance this season. Laughlin said they would crunch numbers in April to see where they stand, and would likely put any winter savings back into the county roads.

County Road Commissioner Thomas Palarz said work will be spread out around the county, and it will be up to Road Commission officials to come up with a list of projects that could be tackled once it's determined how much money is available.

“We haven’t done much on gravel roads, so another thing is to put new gravel down in various townships,” Laughlin said, adding other work includes asphalt and culvert work.

Palarz said with a lighter winter, crews that would normally be in plow trucks are able to handle other tasks. This includes trimming trees, working on ditches and repairing guardrails.

“We do know that, unless we get three weeks of severe weather, we’ll have some savings,” Laughlin said.

The savings are also being noticed in local cities and villages.

Grand Haven City Manager Pat McGinnis said the city has seen some cost savings as a result of the milder-than-normal winter weather. The city budgeted more than $150,000 for winter maintenance in 2011-12, and $40,000 was saved as a result of the warmer weather. Some of the savings has already gone into streets and utilities, McGinnis said.

McGinnis noted that the warm weather allowed city public works crews to spend time on other tasks.

“We did an awful lot of street work because the weather was so nice,” he said. “The ground never froze, so we were able to do underground work that we’ve never done before.”

McGinnis said one of the unique projects was an underground valve replacement project that was done in February.

Spring Lake Village Manager Ryan Cotton said there’s been a cost savings in the village as well.

“It looks like we’re at a 10-percent savings in all of our winter maintenance budgets,” he said.

Cotton said there was about $40,000 budgeted for local streets and $41,000 budgeted for major streets.

Like other communities, Spring Lake Village is looking ahead to spring projects.

“We’re already starting a month ahead of time on some of our other projects,” Cotton said.

These projects include park enhancements at Tanglefoot Park and dock replacement at the Jackson Street dock.

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