October 20, 2014

Road commission expecting about $150,000 from state in additional winter monies

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OMER — While the details of legislation are not finalized, it appears road commissions throughout Michigan will be getting some extra winter maintenance funding from the state, and Arenac County is expected to receive about $150,000.

State Rep. Joel Johnson said the Legislature plans to infuse local road commissions and the Michigan Department of Transportation with $100 million.

“There was $100 million to go to winter maintenance, because of the severe winter that we’ve had,” he said. “So that $100 million is earmarked for winter maintenance, and it will go through the Public Act 51 funding program, so some of that will go to counties and cities and so forth, and some of it will go toward MDOT.”

Road Commission Superintendent Blair Dyer said the county anticipates receiving $150,000, which will help it cover spending over the $450,000 budgeted for the winter. Dyer said the majority of additional spending is due to overtime, since this winter has seen many snowstorms on weekends. He said the road commission is over its winter budget by roughly $80,000.

“Our budget’s sound and everything, but we did spend more for overtime and stuff,” he said.

Having to buy extra snow-removal blades and more fuel also contributed to the overrun, Dyer said. The 5,000 tons of salt purchased for this winter for $75,000 should be enough, according to Dyer.

“Salt’s about where we were at last year,” he said. “That’s because of the cold. We don’t salt when it’s really cold.”

Dyer told the Independent in January that once the temperature dips below 20 degrees, salt is not effective in melting ice on the roadways.

While the difficult winter has pushed Arenac County’s road commission over its apportionment for the season, Dyer said the county is not in a situation as dire as many other road commissions. He said the additional funding from the state would go a long way in not only making up for the funding shortage, but would also help in dealing with the increase in potholes expected when temperatures rise.

“That’ll help us with potholes and that’ll help us with our winter budget,” he said.

“For us, that’ll be a benefit,” Dyer said. “Some counties are telling me that even with that extra money, they’ll still be over.”

Johnson said the additional funding for winter maintenance and pothole repairs are part of a $215 million bill the Legislature is working on. Besides the winter monies, $115 million in project funding is also included in the bill, he said.

The $215 million will be included in next year’s budget, Johnson said.

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