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Oswego Plows Through Budget in Harsh Winter

Mar 03, 2014 03:44PM ● By Steven Jack

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The village of Oswego is facing tens of thousands of dollars in cost overruns in dealing with the unusually cold and snowy winter.

The biggest budget-busters have come in the form of overtime payments to public works employees, the purchase of additional salt and extra payments to snow removal services contracted by the village. 

According to Village Public Works Director Jennifer Hughes the village does not itemize overtime payments by task, but so far the department has spent $127,907 in overtime this fiscal year through the end of February.  The total budgeted for overtime was $71,750. 

As for salt purchases, the village purchased an additional 120 tons of salt after spreading its initial 1,200 ton lot, Hughes said. The initial 1,200-ton purchase cost the village $52.80 per ton, but $108 per ton was charged on the 120-ton purchase. That's a total of about $76,320 spent on salt alone.

To help try and curb expenses, public works since January has been mixing the salt with sand and limiting salt application to primary streets, hills, curves and problem areas, Hughes said.

The total snow removal budget, which includes salt and contractual plowing services, was set at $93,000 this year. Through Feb. 20 the village has actually spent $159,590.

Additionally, the village figures to be on the hook for additional costs relating to frozen underground service lines. Since Feb. 14 public works has worked to thaw 24 frozen lines throughout the village. A total cost for that work has not been determined, according to Hughes.

Mark Horton, the village’s finance director, said the extra expenditures eventually will be a pain point for the village. 

“(Extra expenditures) are being absorbed at this point within the existing budgets and reserve balances,” he said.   They ultimately hurt as they keep other things from being accomplished.”