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Record-breaking winter spikes OT costs for cities, state

Most have trimmed in other areas or asked for additonal money.

Record snowfall and frigid temperatures forced state and local governments, combined, to spend millions to clean up snow and ice, leaving their overtime budgets drained.

Public works leaders have called this past winter the worst in recent history, and as cities prepare for the upcoming winter, some municipalities are reporting they will have to request adjustments or trim their budgets in other areas to compensate for overages.

Similar to local governments, the Ohio Department of Transportation spent significantly more on winter weather cleanup this year. The state transportation agency spent $120 million on snow and ice removal. Typically, ODOT spends about $65 million on an average winter.

“We believe this winter was a record breaker for costs,” said Steve Faulkner, an ODOT spokesman.

ODOT, which has a $2.8 billion annual budget, estimates it spent $16.8 million on overtime this winter.

“We constantly assess and evaluate the money that’s generated from the motor fuel tax,” Faulkner said. “A costly winter is another thing we add into that equation.”

Several cities in the region said the frequency of snow storms forced city employees to work longer hours into the night and often into the weekend. This triggered exorbitant overtime costs and suffocated budgets.

Dayton’s overall winter storm costs hit $1.9 million this year. The highest single storm event cost the city $349,996.

Dayton spent $584,500 on overtime this season, going over budget by $325,000. With overtime costs being double what they were last year, Dayton Public Works Director Fred Stovall said he will have to ask the city manager for a budget adjustment.

“I still have things to do,” Stovall said.

Springfield’s overtime costs more than doubled this winter season from $95,279 last year to $200,988 this year. The city budgeted $141,600 for maintenance divisions responsible for responding to winter weather. So far, the city has spent $171,842 — more than $30,000 over budget.

As a result, the city will not have money for anything other than routine maintenance, said Chris Moore, the Springfield Service Department director.

Overtime costs in the city of Beavercreek more than doubled this past winter, which resulted in the city using most of its overtime budget during the first quarter of the year, according to city records. The city has spent about $146,645 on overtime so far this year compared to $55,755 last year.

Beavercreek Public Service Division Superintendent John Woltja said the frequency of winter storms caused overtime costs to spike.

“The timing of it was such that the guys never got a rest,” Woltja said. “They didn’t really have weekends off. They were putting their 40 hours in during the week. Then they were working nights and weekends.”

Overall, Beavercreek reported it spent $999,380 in total winter storm costs this year compared to $578,185 last year — a 73 percent increase.

The city’s average cost per winter storm slightly increased from $27,500 last year to $28,500 this year. The highest single winter storm cost, $73,900, was a 28 percent increase over last year’s single most expensive storm, $57,800, according to city data.

In Kettering, overtime costs increased 76 percent from $125,000 last year to $220,000 this year, according to city data.

“Obviously, when you have one of the more active winter seasons on record with regard to the number of days below zero as well as the amount of snowfall we had, the challenges vary,” said David Duritsch, the Kettering public service director. “During the winter season you have people that are working 12-hour shifts. They get done with one snow storm, and within a week there’s another storm. I don’t think individuals had a weekend free from snow removal. Probably a handful of weekends, through the entire season.”

Overall winter storm costs for the city totaled $800,000 this year compared to $525,000 last year, according to city records.

Xenia more than doubled its overtime costs this past winter. The city is $9,743 over its overtime budget , according to city data. Xenia spent $30,590 on overtime this year compared to $10,855 last year.

Fairborn’s snow removal overtime costs almost doubled from $31,565 last year to $62,579, according to city data.

“It’s when you have to have your crews out there working all night, that really hurts you,” said Sean Sink, the Fairborn fleet and equipment superintendent. “Last year the temperatures were so cold, it took longer to get it (snow) off than it did the year before.”

Huber Heights budgeted $74,900 for overtime this year. About 45 percent of those funds have already been used, according to Michael Gray, the Huber Heights Public Works manager.

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