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Posted on Tue. Apr. 15, 2014 - 12:01 am EDT

Snow joke: County Highway Department seeks another $500,000

State's Fort Wayne District also saw record snow expenses this winter

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The bill for this winter's near-record snowfall is starting to come due.

Allen County Highway Department on Thursday is expected to ask County Council for permission to spend nearly $500,000 on unbudgeted winter-related expenses, and for the 17-county Fort Wayne Regional District of the Indiana Department of Transportation, the tally is even higher: $10.2 million.

“It was a very expensive winter, and it took its toll on people and equipment,” said INDOT spokeswoman Toni Mayo, who said.

This winter's bill – recorded between Nov. 1 and March 31 -- represents 1.7 million miles covered by INDOT plow drivers on the district's 140 routes and the expense nearly doubled the $5.8 million spent last year, Mayo said.

County Highway Director Bill Hartman, meanwhile, is requesting another $30,000 for overtime, $144,942 for salt, $160,000 for fuel and $132,600 for equipment maintenance, repair and replacement of items such as blades damaged by heavy use. Some of the money will be used to replenish the county and state's salt supply for use late this year.

This winter, INDOT's Fort Wayne District used 84,300 tons of salt compared to 46,700 last year, Mayo said.

Fort Wayne officials will be asking City Council for additional funds as well, City Utilities spokesman Frank Suarez said. The city used about $1.44 million in de-icing material, paid about $500,000 in overtime and also paid $166,750 for contracted snow services, mostly to clear alleys.

In addition, the city spent more than $334,000 on fuel and replaced 698 truck blades at a cost of $41,880.

Mayo and Hartman said they did not expect the unanticipated cost to have a great impact on other operations, such as road maintenance. The County Highway Department, had nearly $464,000 left over from its 2013 budget, and received about $602,000 in state gasoline taxes late last year.

Mayo said INDOT's winter expense this year is believed to be a record. The district spent $4.4 million in 2011-2012 and $9.1 million the year before that – a figure that, when adjusted for inflation, is about $9.79 million today.

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kleininger@news-sentinel.com


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