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Budgets adrift

Becky Vargo • Jul 21, 2015 at 1:45 PM

“Right now, we’ve used about half our ($3.9 million) winter budget,” Ottawa County Road Commission Finance Director Michael Mikita said.

 

“The way this winter is going, there’s going to be less money to do road improvements,” he said. “But no matter what, we’ll take care of winter.”

The supply of salt is the biggest concern, Mikita said.

Ottawa County has an allocation of 22,500 tons of salt and has nearly used all of its supply. The county plows roads in Grand Haven and Spring Lake townships.

“It’s too early to get close to that number,” Mikita said.

The county can purchase more salt, but Mikita said it’s in tight supply around the state and region, and it will be costly.

The good news is that the salt doesn’t work well in temperatures below 20 degrees. As a result, county workers have used more sand.

The Road Commission is also down 16 employees who weren’t replaced when they retired. The reason is the county doesn’t get enough gas tax money to cover all the costs.

Operations Superintendent Ryan Kemppainen said they’ve also had more overtime hours in December than they’ve had since 1998.

During days like this past Monday and Tuesday, the county will have as many as 65-70 plow drivers on the road.

“We’ll pull a few guys out of our sign shops,” Kemppainen said. “The mechanics come out, too.”

To read more of this story, see today's print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.

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