Fulton County

In Gloversville, a move to plow and salt simultaneously

After a few weeks of snowy and frozen roads, Gloversville Mayor Dayton King is calling for upgrades

After a few weeks of snowy and frozen roads, Gloversville Mayor Dayton King is calling for upgrades to the city’s snow- and ice-removal equipment.

“The ice froze on, and it was just brutal,” he said of city roads in the past few weeks, as regular snow and single-digit temperatures made ice removal difficult. “Even as a resident, if I’m not the mayor, I’m frustrated with it. I heard from just about everybody.”

At Tuesday’s Common Council meeting, King proposed investing in equipment that can salt and plow at the same time, whether it be entirely new equipment or retrofitting existing equipment. He estimated before the meeting that the upgrades could run $200,000 to $300,000 spread out over several years.

“It’s going to take some money to do it, but we really need to retrofit our vehicles to have the salt in the back so we can plow it up and we can salt right afterwards,” he said. Not only would that be more effective, he said, but it would be more efficient.

The city’s Department of Public Works currently runs six plow trucks, with two people per truck, four salt trucks, and sometimes extra vehicles like a bucket loader, grader and smaller truck. With a staff of 28 total, including the director and secretary, that taxes the department’s manpower quickly, he said.

“It’s not working,” said King. “We’ve really got to be efficient and find a better way. And I’m hoping the council will see it that way, be willing to invest and then we need to make sure that the leadership will put a plan together and execute that plan.”

King said the city has nearly $5 million in fund balance, some of which it could put toward the equipment upgrades, though he was cautious to note that that money was accumulated from some good fortune in the past few years and will not last forever. The city could bond for some of the costs, as well, he said.

In his State of the City Address Tuesday, he called the poorly maintained winter roads “one of the biggest issues that breeds negativity in our city” and a safety hazard for children who walk to school and residents who drive to work.

The measure would be expensive up front, he said, but he thinks the city would break even in the end with savings from reduced labor.

“I think this is something that the taxpayers would actually see a return on, and I think personally it’s worth the money,” he said.

Gloversville Department of Public Works Director Kevin Jones did not return requests for comment.

Fulton County Highway and Facilities Superintendent Mark Yost said the plan makes sense. The county, like most other municipalities, uses plows with salt spreaders on the back. He has a fleet of five trucks to cover 100 miles of road, he said.

Combining the operations uses fewer trucks, fewer workers, and saves on materials, he said, as it takes a lot more salt to melt several inches of snow and ice than to keep ice off an already-plowed road.

“Whatever the size of the fleet is, I think [King] is going to cut his fleet in half, which makes a lot of sense,” said Yost. “And I’m glad he’s looking at it, because I think it’s the right thing.”

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