This winter has already wreaked havoc on Champaign and Urbana Public Works crews and the Champaign County Highway Department, especially the latest snow storm. But the departments are not in dire straits financially at this time.
Champaign Public Works spokesman Kris Koester said the city budgets for about 24 inches of snow every winter, and Koester said nearly 20 inches have already hit the area. He said the department is estimating another 12 inches of snow before the winter is over, and that another 2,000 tons of salt has been ordered in the last few weeks to handle that potential snowfall.
Over in Urbana, Public Works Director Bill Gray said the city has used more than 2,100 hours of overtime this winter, with 634 hours of that just last week. Last week's storm also cost the city nearly $22,000.
Gray said a lot goes into getting crews ready every winter.
Gray added that a plow truck driver's job is very difficult with low visibility, trying to see curbs and dealing with moving or stationary vehicles.
He said that 800 tons of salt has been used in Urbana so far this winter, 220 of that to handle last week's storm alone. He said salt comes at a cost of $57 per ton.
Meanwhile, Accountant for the Champaign County Highway Department Debbie Wagner said $60,000 has been spent since Dec. 1 on equipment, fuel and maintenance. Wagner said that the county has also spent 64% of its overtime budget, which is mostly used for responding to winter storms.