Long snowy winter taking its toll on Public Works salt stockpile and employee hours

Morrison County Public Works Director Steve Backowski was the guest speaker at a recent Little Falls Kiwanis Club meeting. He told the group that the county had already spent its budget for snow plowing, sand and salt. He said budget adjustments would be made during the summer to accommodate the shortfalls. Pictured is Backowski, left, with Bonnie Becker, Kiwanis program chair.

Morrison County Public Works Director Steve Backowski was the guest speaker at a recent Little Falls Kiwanis Club meeting. He told the group that the county had already spent its budget for snow plowing, sand and salt. He said budget adjustments would be made during the summer to accommodate the shortfalls. Pictured is Backowski, left, with Bonnie Becker, Kiwanis program chair.

Budget adjustments will be made during summer

by Jennie Zeitler, Staff Writer

Morrison County Public Works Director Steve Backowski appeared as a guest speaker at a recent Little Falls Kiwanis Club meeting. He spoke about the pressures put on his department by the long snowy winter.

“The department has utilized more than 3,000 tons of salt so far this season. A normal season is 2,800 tons,” Backowski said. “Our added costs are associated mainly with fuel, cutting edges and additional equipment maintenance.”

A cutting edge is a replaceable edge that attaches to the bottom of the plow and runs over the road surface. It wears away instead of the plow itself.

Backowski said that overtime has not been a big overrun because many of the snow events and drifting problems have occurred during the regular work week and not on weekends or holidays.

“The County has already spent its budget for snow plowing and for sand and salt,” he said. “We will be making budget adjustments during the summer to make up for budget shortfalls.”

The County operates 19 snow removal routes. Each truckload of the 50/50 mix of sand and salt used to melt snow and ice costs $1,000.

“We place our salt order in April and it’s bid on a statewide basis,” said Backowski. “We may then order up to 20 percent over that quantity at the price quoted. We just took delivery of the last of our quantity of the state bid.”

Backowski believes the County will have enough to complete the season, unless something “really goes bad. If we do need additional salt, we will have to go on the open market and the price will be determined at that time,” he said.

At the time Backowski spoke to the Kiwanis Club, the department had been out to clear snow 28 times this season. Since then, they have been out three more times. An average season includes 22 snow removals.

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