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Winter taking a toll on cities

March 7, 2014 - Linda Lobeck
We all have experienced the pinch in our pocketbooks as the winter has worn on — from the price of groceries, heat, electricity or gas for our vehicles — it’s all adding up.

This year’s winter weather has also had a huge impact on cities with extra costs from plowing the roads to the constant need to go out and thaw out water and sewer lines.

Iron Mountain City Manager Jordan Stanchina outlined just how much the frozen lines have cost the city so far during a recent council meeting.

In regular wages, that amounted to $31,350, another $19,882 in overtime costs and $13,000 or so in equipment for a total of $64,469. And that’s not including the cost of materials.

This year had been compared to other years with similar problems due to a harsh winter. But Stanchina said that this winter has definitely been worse. “It’s blowing the other years away.”

He noted that Marquette County had tried to get help with an attempt to declare a state of emergency. But as Stanchina noted that in declaring a state of emergency, the figures on the costs to a city or county do not include wages. And that is a huge portion of the costs.

I think the state has to start looking at these costs to help out the cities and counties during this deep freeze winter. And like Stanchina told the council — they have no idea what will happen in the spring -- it could be good or very bad.

To date, the city of Iron Mountain has thawed about 224 lines and that’s not including the second, third and fourth times they have had to go back to do it on some of the lines.

Everyone had praise for the city staff who have been working long hours dealing with these problems to get them rectified as soon as possible. Council members as well as the public have expressed their thanks to the city staff for their efforts.

They noted that is was a real team approach — from those who have fielded the calls from upset and irate residents to the workers from the DPW and water departments on scene to thaw out the lines.

We can only hope that when spring comes, it’s a gradual warming up that won’t leave the cities in worse shape than they have been already this winter.


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