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County Engineer Reviews Snow Removal Budget

By Staff | Mar 9, 2010

A look into the crystal ball, so to speak, was the topic of a briefing by the Palo Alto County Engineer to the county Board of Supervisors during its weekly board meeting March 2. The proposed plans for construction projects in the county for Fiscal Year 2011 was explained to the supervisors, along with other Secondary Road matters during the update.

To lead off the discussion, Engineer Joel Fantz acknowledged that the winter’s snows have “done a number” on the snow removal budget, to no one’s surprise. “The snow has definitely beat us down from a budget standpoint,” Fantz noted. “But, there are some items in our budget that could be pulled to cover the snow expenditures.”

Fantz went on to detail some of those items, including gravel removal and crushing at the Cylinder pit, a budget area of $200,000, as well as the sign replacement budget of $20,000. “But, keep in mind, we got a lot of those signs with all this snow,” Fantz noted, which drew chuckles from the board members.

Paint striping and marking of pavements is budgeted at $44,000 and the purchase of two additional belly dump semi trailers and tractors was budgeted at $100,000.

“The belly dumps and semis would actually be good money savers, because we’re using those to haul twice as much gravel in a load than our regular tandem dump trucks,” Fantz noted. “And that saves wear and tear on the tandems, which we need for snow plowing.”

“That’s true,” agreed Supervisor Keith Wirtz. “Semis are pretty cost effective right now. I think we need those belly dumps.”

“How much money do you need to cover the additional snow expenses?” Board Chair Jerry Hofstad asked the engineer.

“We have enough in our rainy day, or snowy day fund,” Fantz answered, “And it would probably be less than $100,000.”

Fantz continued, “My recommendation would be to proceed with the purchase of the belly dump semis, but it will require a budget modification. It will not require any additional tax asking and will be meeting the public need to keep our roads in good repair for the public use.”

“I’d say to go ahead and make the budget modification,” said Supervisor Ed Noonan. “This has been a 20 year snowfall year.”

In regards to the gravel crushing project for the year, Fantz noted that for years, the county has relied on Wayne Hanson of Algona to crush gravel. “When I asked Wayne for his price on crushing for this year, he indicated it would be $2.35 a ton,” Fantz noted. “We’re anticipating crushing 80,000 tons at Cylinder for this year.”

Fantz told the board members that Reding Gravel and Excavating in Algona had offered a crushing price of $2.05 per ton, which translated to a difference of $20,000 for the county. “We’ve been with Hanson for a long, long time, even before I came here,” Fantz said, “but I would recommend we give Reding’s a try. There’s just too much of a difference in costs.”

“I’d suggest we try Reding too,” agreed Hofstad.

Supervisor Ron Graettinger offered a motion to contract with Reding’s Gravel and Excavating for the county’s gravel crushing and subsequently approved on a unanimous vote of the board members.

Fantz then reviewed the county’s construction plan for FY 2011, which must be filed annually with the Iowa Dept. of Transportation.