Snow piles up costs for BG PDF Print E-mail
Written by HAROLD BROWN Sentinel City Editor   
Tuesday, 14 January 2014 11:10
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File. A BG Public Works plow moves down Main Street. (Photo: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
Bowling Green has already spent more than $96,000 dealing with the snow and ice of 2014.
"This certainly exceeds our anticipation for the first week of a new year," Municipal Administrator John Fawcett told city council Monday night. He said the overtime budget has been "dinged" and added that the department will have to "be making efficient decisions along the way."
Fawcett said most of the expense was in the public works budget, citing 2,354 gallons of fuel ($8,000); 1,999 hours of overtime ($63,690); 520 tons of salt ($18,460) and $5,800 in damage to city equipment. Approximately 60 people worked some overtime, most in public works, with help also coming from utility staff and parks and recreation. Public works employees were on 12-hour shifts for many days.
Although city offices were officially closed two days, about a dozen people were working in the City Building, answering phones and dealing with other issues. Fawcett said the city considers all of its employees essential, but with the Level 3 snow emergency, allows them an individual decision as to whether to report to work.
Mayor Richard Edwards led a series of officials praising the efforts of the employees during the storm.
"I have nothing but accolades for the department of public works. They were working around the clock," Edwards said. The mayor spent time riding with public works employee Clayton Baker in a snowplow the night of Jan. 5. "They told me to strap myself in," which Edwards said was good advice.
Fawcett said the city's education efforts on snow emergencies and getting vehicles off designated streets are paying off with only one citation and no tows in the latest storm. There were 26 tows and 29 citations in the previous snow emergency. He said the city posts information on its website, uses social media, newspapers and other media to get the message out.
Director of Public Works Brian Craft praised the teamwork of several city departments in clearing streets and thanked citizens for their patience as refuse and recycling pickup resumes this week. He noted two new employees started with public works Monday, filling vacancies left by retirements late in 2013. "The new hires got to sit in on our review today," Craft said.
Conneaut Avenue residents Ron and Sue Neufeld brought their dented up, doorless mailbox to the meeting, expressing their displeasure with a change of city policy in recent years regarding how the city determines responsibility.
Ron Neufeld said they have lived in the 1600 block since 1982 and having problems with the mailbox is nothing new. While the city continues to supply a temporary mailbox, he said getting the city to cover the cost of a new box is now difficult. "I disagree with the decision. Before the plow goes by I have a mailbox, afterwards I don't have a mailbox."
Craft said a letter was sent to residents several years ago outlining U.S. Postal Service guidelines and how the city would handle the issue. He said information is also posted on the city's website.
Council Member Robert McOmber asked Craft if he thought a plow hit the mailbox. Craft said he believes the mailbox was hit because its door was opened, thus protruding into the setback from the curb. The open door, Craft said, was not the city's fault.
Sue Neufeld said as teachers one of the things they try to do is teach students to take responsibility and suggested the city should take responsibility.
Several council members indicated they were OK with the city having and following a consistent policy.
Council also:
• Learned the Ohio Parks and Recreation Association has named the city's pool and water park project one of three finalists for its Grand Award. The winner will be announced Feb. 4. The city earlier received  a lesser award from the group for the project.
• Heard the city will receive a $140,000 insurance settlement for the storm damage that took down 15 transmission poles on North Dunbridge Road last July. The city will cover the $100,000 deductible on the $240,000 claim.
• Learned electric loads during the height of the storm and subzero weather were below normal. Director of Utilities Brian O'Connell said many manufacturers were closed or reduced operations and BGSU was not in session. Demand has since returned to normal levels.
• Approved legislation to cooperate with the Ohio Department of Transportation to upgrade traffic signals on Ohio 64 through the city with battery backups and LED street name signs.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 14 January 2014 12:00
 

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