GOSHEN -- The harsh conditions this winter have been tough on the city's Street Department, leading the department to request an additional appropriation of $60,000 for equipment.
Street Commissioner Denny Long brought his request to City Council Tuesday night, Feb. 4, but the appropriation just scratches the surface of the costs incurred through this season thus far.
The Street Department's equipment budget has been at $150,000 the past several years but the severity of the weather has created more problems than in previous years.
Issues have arisen more frequently because the area has consistently experienced very cold temperatures and lots of snowfall, Long said Tuesday afternoon in a phone interview.
Conditions have been worse this year not only because of the amount of snow, but also because the area did not experience its typical January thaw.
Because of the continual cold, snow from December has remained, Long said and just keeps piling higher as it continues to fall.
Long believes the Street Department was as prepared as they could be heading into the season.
"We all read the Farmer's Almanac and what was inside. We knew we were probably going to see more snow," he said, before adding that the prolonged stretch of cold was unforeseen.
The Street Department is actually still well-stocked with salt, mix and road patch and the department remains within state contract boundaries for those materials.
"I'm not running out of that stuff like some places are," Long said.
But continually plowing icy snow has taken a toll on the department's equipment.
"Some of that snow is so hard it's like hitting concrete," he said.
Damages to several trucks and plows were compounded Tuesday morning when a pay loader was damaged. That will add about $10,000 more in repair expenses to the city's already growing list of fixes and replacements.
The frequency with which Street Department employees have had to plow the streets has also had a profound impact in other areas.
The $60,000 Long requested Tuesday just addresses the need for truck and plow replacement and repairs. It doesn't account for costs such as fuel and overtime, which are also relatively high when compared to the past few years.
As of Tuesday, employees had already put in as much overtime as they had all of 2013. The department had budgeted $46,650 for overtime in all of 2014. They've already paid out $43,961.08.
Long said Tuesday night that he would likely have to return to Council in the spring to address the overtime funding issue.
Department vehicles have used more than $55,000 worth of fuel this winter. That means the department has already used nearly half of its $120,000 fuel budget for the year.
All told, Long estimated that the department has already spent $208,976.54 on snow removal so far this year.
The additional appropriation the they received Tuesday is a start, but there's more snow on the way and with it, likely more expenses.
"I haven't even begun to look at recouping all the costs for the winter," Long said.