SOUTHFIELD (WWJ) – Back-to-back snowstorms that dumped nearly two feet of snow on Oakland County in recent weeks created a monster cleanup tab.
The county’s road commission said it spent nearly $3 million on storm clean up efforts that required the use of nearly 9,000 hours of overtime work among road crews.
“This was a historic series of events,” Greg Jamian, road commission chairman, said in a statement. “First, the storm that started New Year’s Eve brought about six inches of snow. Four days later, just as we were completing cleanup of that storm, the monster storm arrived, dumping another 12 to 16 inches of snow. That was followed by record low temperatures, which in turn were followed by a ‘heat wave’ of temperatures in the 40s with heavy rain. If you were trying to design weather conditions to wreak the most havoc on roads, you couldn’t do much better than this.”
The $3 million cost includes regular and overtime wages of employees working on storm-related activities (plowing, salting, mechanics keeping trucks running, etc.) as well as the costs of operating the county’s fleet of salt/plow trucks, materials used (salt, brine and sand) as well as the cost of using contractors to help clear subdivision and back roads.
“That’s $3 million that we no longer have available for repairing roads,” Jamian said.
Jamian noted that operating revenues are derived from the state-collected gas and diesel taxes and vehicle registration fees. “Many people think we are funded through property taxes, but we are not. We don’t receive your property taxes,” he said, adding that revenue from the fuel taxes and vehicle registration fees fell significantly during the last 10 years.
However, the agency has taken a number of steps to try to reduce the impact of the falling revenue on the level of service, such as hiring contractors to help plow subdivisions and back roads. Also, this year, for the second year, RCOC hired part-time, seasonal workers to assist full-time staff in fighting the snow storms.
“We are doing everything we can, with the resources available, to provide the highest level of service and the safest roads we can,” Jamian said.