Although it took longer than expected, winter weather officially arrived in Cazenovia on Friday, Jan. 13, with snow, cold temperatures and the school district’s first snow day.
Although many areas had experienced light snowfall throughout December, Central New York is about 38 inches behind the amount of snowfall recorded this time last year.
After watching their seasonal snow budgets melt quickly last year, the Cazenovia Village Department of Public Works and the Cazenovia Town Highway Department administrators are happy to report they are in good standing this season.
“Thankfully, it’s been real quiet this season, we haven’t had to use as much salt or diesel fuel,” said Public Works Administrator Bill Carr. “We plow about 15 miles of roadway, and at least that much in sidewalks. At the beginning of January, we had used 80 percent less salt than a year ago.”
“The town’s budget cycle follows the calendar year. At the end of last winter we had exhausted the entire snow budget and we still had October, November and December of this year to deal with,” said Cazenovia Town Highway Superintendent Tim Hunt. “As it turned out, it was so mild that we did not need to use any additional funds. We have been out plowing, sanding and salting 40 times this winter. Last year at this time, we had been out 93 times.”
The village’s snow budget began the season with $119,000. Currently, $79,000 is left, as DPW workers have had to salt and sand roads sporadically, and employees are paid regardless of whether snow falls or not. The department boasts three plow trucks and a sidewalk plow.
Carr considers Jan. 13 the most substantial snowfall, but said that the DPW had to salt local streets numerous times beforehand.
Although he is happy to be saving on material costs, he explained the rising price of diesel fuel can drain the budget faster than having to pay for salt, sand and labor. Compared to last year, the DPW is paying 13 more cents per gallon of diesel fuel.
As for his outlook on the remaining funds and the rest of the unpredictable Central New York winter, Carr is confident the budget will endure, but wisely added, “I can’t be exact; it all depends on the weather.”
Being that the town’s budget parallels the calendar year, Hunt said last year’s snow budget was strained, and he was pleased to see little snowfall at the end of 2011. “We thought we might have to use contingency funds to get through the remainder of the budget year,” he said.
The town highway department uses four trucks to plow 82 centerline miles of road.
While Hunt acknowledges Jan. 13 was the first significant snowfall of the season, previous icy conditions required the department to salt and sand numerous town roadways.
Hunt is curious as to what the remaining winter months hold, but is fairly confident this season’s decreased snowfall has already eased budget concerns. “It is always too early to predict what the winter has in store for us,” he said. “It is Central New York and we could always see a strong finish to the winter. Historically the winters have a way of balancing themselves out.”
More information on DPW can be found at villageofcazenovia.com or 655-4454.
To learn more about the highway department, visit townofcazenovia.org or call 655-4852.
Pierce Smith is editor of the Cazenovia Republican. He can be reached at 434-8889 ext. 338 or email@example.com.