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Price of plowing is likely to grow

Price of plowing is likely to grow

Montgomery County’s cost for plowing roadways would exceed $2 million under a proposal that received

Montgomery County’s cost for plowing roadways would exceed $2 million under a proposal that received preliminary approval from county supervisors Tuesday.

The county Board of Supervisors’ general services committee approved two measures that will increase costs if they get final board approval later this month. One relates to snowplowing contracts, the other to the purchase of new buses for the county’s MAX transportation system.

The committee passed a resolution on to the board’s finance committee calling for a $250 increase per mile plowed by town highway departments.

The county government doesn’t plow any of the 394.22 miles of its roadways, instead contracting with towns for the service.

The county board increased the per-mile payment from $3,000 to $5,000 two years ago, which at the time was the first increase in four years.

Supervisors on Tuesday said costs are escalating to the point where even $5,000 a mile doesn’t cover the wintertime maintenance costs.

Florida town Supervisor William Strevy said input from the town’s highway superintendent leads him to believe that the town is losing money on the deal.

Strevy said that aside from the increased cost of fuel, salt that used to cost $32 per ton is up to $48 per ton.

“We’re losing money on the $5,000 per mile,” Amsterdam town Supervisor Thomas DiMezza said. A nursing home and a hospital inside the town’s borders pushes plowing from a periodic activity to a daylong job, DiMezza said.

“In the town of Amsterdam, people have come to expect clean roads. Now, it’s become a 24-hour business,” DiMezza said.

Amsterdam 4th Ward Supervisor David Dybas suggested that the board implement an increase based on inflation as a means of providing a gradual increase.

The county anticipates spending $1,973,900 for snow removal in 2008, according to the county budget. The $250-per-mile increase, a 5 percent hike, would bring the cost to about $2.07 million in 2009.

Following an unrelated discussion, the committee approved a measure to boost funding that the county would put toward the purchase of two buses for the Montgomery Area Express transportation system, or MAX.

The system, implemented in February, operates with two secondhand buses and transports people to and from both ends of the county.

Initial estimates called for the county to pay $13,000 in matching funds to buy two buses. But the buses that were planned for purchase are now considered substandard, Senior Planner Doug Greene said.

Instead, the county will try to “piggyback” on a purchase of different buses being bought by the Capital District Transportation Authority. The new cost will be $24,000 if the measure is approved by the full Board of Supervisors.

In the first four months of the system’s operation, officials counted a total of 936 riders.

Figures provided to the board Tuesday showed a marked increase in ridership, with 548 riders in July alone.

“We’re very pleased with that,” Greene said.

The committee approved the additional funding. Greene said it’s likely the buses, once ordered, would be in operation in early 2009.

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