As city Streets and Parks Department crews clear away the remaining snow and ice from smaller streets and alleys today, the latest winter blast continues to chip away at the city budget on costs for salt, cinders and overtime for its personnel.
"We're going to be out until the last street and alley is cleared," said John Markley, assistant general manager of the city Streets and Parks Department. The crews jumped into 16 plow trucks and began attacking the storm as of 1:30 a.m. Wednesday, he said.
Today, whatever streets and alleys remain unplowed will be open, Markley said.
PHILIP A. HOLMES/Sun-Gazette
During heavy snowstorms, like the one that struck the region Wednesday morning, firefighters urge residents to take a few minutes to help clear snow from fire hydrants near their homes. In above photo, snow covers most of a hydrant at a corner in the city’s Newberry neighborhood. A fire can strike at any time and when it does, seconds count. Firefighters can attack a blaze faster if they don’t have to take time to shovel snow off a hydrant.
Another storm on the horizon, arriving possibly by Sunday, according to the National Weather Service in State College, isn't helping the budget for materials and overtime.
"More than half of the city budget on salt and cinders has been expended and 25 percent of the overtime budget has been used up on personnel in streets," said William E. Nichols Jr., city finance director. "We've expended the salt and cinder budget, no doubt about that. We've got a full load and hopefully that will be our last order."
About $37,000 of the $63,000 budget on salt and cinders has been spent, he said.
A recent delivery of 600 tons of salt cost $33,600, Nichols said.
"We're close to having ordered 1,500 tons of salt for the year," he said.
The price continues to climb for salt because of high demand, he said.
As for overtime costs, the city spent $10,000 out of a $40,000 budget, Nichols said. The parks and flood control section spent 10 percent of its overtime budget, he said.
Mayor Gabriel J. Campana closed City Hall after a two-hour delay Wednesday.
He's not declared a snow emergency in his 5 1/2 year tenure.
Such an event would be done after consulting with city fire and police and John Yingling, director of the Lycoming County Department of Public Safety, Campana said. The alert would publicized through radio stations and newspapers, and the city website, he said.
If severe enough, a snow emergency may require people to remain indoors and off the streets. With past mayors, if such an emergency was declared, cars had to park on the odd number side of the street on odd calendar dates, such as Feb. 5, and likewise for the even days and addresses.
Campana said that hasn't been done for years.
"It would be too difficult for residents and city responsible for towing vehicles," he said.