Onondaga County towns at odds with county over snowplow costs

The majority of Onondaga County towns, though, have taken the deal.

“Of our 40 roads, 17 are county,” said Marcellus Town Supervisor Dan Ross. “Most of these roads we have to go over to get to town roads, anyway. We probably break even at that number, but even if we didn’t, it’s still the most effective way to plow the roads for our residents. For us, it worked, so we took what was offered.”

Traditionally, towns have plowed more than 318 centerline miles of county roads so that county plows can focus on larger or more frequently accessed routes. Though towns are providing snow removal, the county continues to be responsible for maintenance and upkeep of the roads.

That is a major concern among supervisors, Michalenko said.

“We do a great job on our neighborhoods, and when [DeWitt] residents get out on the major collector roads, our concern is that those roads would not be adequately taken care of,” Michalenko said.

Last year, winter dropped 179 inched of snow on Syracuse, the fourth-highest total since 1950. The Farmers’ Almanac predicts the 2011-12 winter season will be snowier than average, with average temperatures.

The art of snowplowing isn’t haphazardly decided, Millea said. The switch between county and town responsibility for the roads should be seamless.

“The driving public should see very little, if any difference in the treatment of these roads,” he said. “The frequency issue is a function of snowfall and we have professionals who go out and they do assessments of roadways and plows are dispatched as needed to ensure safety of the roadway. It’s not that one snowflake falls and they go out, it’s really a professional judgment of our DOT workforce on how many runs are necessary to get those roads to a standard that we strive for.”

Negotiations for a contract will continue until all parties are satisfied with costs and responsibilities.

“We could be the ‘lone ranger’ here, we could be the only town that doesn’t plow,” Theobald said. “They could have worked with us a little more.”

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