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Storm causing budget problems for local road commissions

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Road crews are starting to make progress on clearing all this snow.

Now that they have a moment to catch their breath, road commissions across the state are starting to crunch numbers.

From overtime to salt costs, this latest winter storm has put a big dent into their winter budgets.

Ryan Kemppainen, the Director of Operations at the Ottawa County Road Commission, says they've already spent more than half of their winter budget, and they've used more overtime hours in December than they have since 1998.

With more snowy months ahead, they say the money has to come from somewhere.

The roads are finally clear in Grand Haven, after crews have been working 12 hour days to keep up with the snow.

"Typically we have 65 to 70 plows out there running," Kemppainen said.

But all of that work comes with a hefty price tag.

"So far, we're $2 million into a $3.9 million budget for winter," Kemppainen said.

In December alone, the Ottawa County Road Commission used 4,600 hours of overtime; last year, they used just 415 hours.

"It's not the worst winter, but it's definitely one of the higher Decembers we've had," Kemppainen said.

When it comes to salt, he adds they've already used 90 percent of their supply, and will have to buy more.

Despite the budget woes, however, Kemppainen says they won't stop working around the clock.

"It just means we'll be doing less in the summer; some of our local road programs will take a hit, and we'll be doing less summer maintenance to make up for the extra expenditures in the winter," he said.

So as the overtime hours grow and the budget shrinks, the plows are heading back out, keeping the roads clear and drivers safe.

Newschannel 3 also checked with a number of other road commissions Thursday, and found that they all seem to be dealing with some very hefty overtime hours.

In areas like Barry County, where the ice storm did serious damage, they say a large portion of the cost wasn't snow, but tree removal.