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Winter Costing Utica More Than Council Hoped

Peter Macdairmid, Getty Images

Utica, NY (WIBX) - Winter is costing the city of Utica more than the common council had hoped. The council decreased the amount of money allocated for the purchase of road salt during the budget process last year, but now they’re paying for it anyway.

The council approved another $90,000 to purchase road salt at its meeting Wednesday. This, after the council allocated $85,000 for salt last month.

DPW Commissioner David Short estimates he currently has enough salt to cover three ‘incidents.’

“Anytime [we] have to go out and salt, whether it’s an inch or a blizzard, that’s an incident,” Short said.

Short says the DPW’s 13 trucks cover the entire city and spread a combined 350-tons of road salt when there is an ‘incident.’ Short says the salt costs about $50 per ton, or roughly $17,500 each time the full fleet goes out to salt the roads.

And, he says, sometimes it doesn’t take snow, sleet or freezing rain to get the trucks on the road, especially in certain areas. Those include the steep roads that come down from the Parkway, Albany Hill and Higby Road, Short said. 

“During the day it may break freezing and it starts to melt. By night, it freezes again and you have black ice. The salt is used quite a bit – that’s our main defense against the bad weather here in Central New York,” Short said.

Council President William Morehouse acknowledges it’s a costly expense, but says the city has to have it.

“It’s not a question of if, or will we, it’s a public safety issue. If we need salt, we have to have salt. As soon as someone slides down Arlington Road and hits a telephone pole, the city becomes liable at that point.”

Councilman Jerome McKinsey agrees.

“As a city, we can’t afford to try and make it through the rest of the winter without salt.”

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