Counties cope again with snow removal costs - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Counties cope again with snow removal costs


Baraboo (WKOW) - In Sauk County and other spots just north of Madison, the first big snowstorm  reminded officials of what it was like to keep up with last winter's record snows, both logistically and financially.

   Sauk County highway officials said there was a full deployment of snow plows and other equipment as eight to ten inches of snow coated county roads, highway 12 and the interstate.

   County highway commissioner Steve Muchow said while the storm was the season's most significant so far, his department of nearly sixty people has already responded to five snow events this season.

   Muchow told 27 News costs involved in snow removal have sky-rocketed for counties such as Sauk.  

   Muchow said the cost of a ton of salt has quadrupled in the past decade.   

   "Plus our equipment costs are alot higher,"  Muchow told 27 News.   "Like cutting edges on our snow plows have gone up over 300%."

   Muchow said he's $200,000 over budget for road maintenance this year and counting.

   Muchow said some road construction was delayed and a contingency fund tapped to cover the shortfall.

   Sauk County's expenses for road maintenance were compounded by spring road damage from severe flooding.

   But Muchow told 27 News Sauk County's experiences with snow removal over the past two years helped lead to a plan for winter road maintenance with more cushion for 2009.

   Last month, Sauk County officials budgeted nearly 33% more money for next year's winter snow removal needs compared to 2008.

   Strategies to cope with increasing costs and record snow have been similar in several smaller counties.

   They include delaying planned road work; lower cost, road treatment solutions; and downsizing staff, largely through attrition.


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