Costs of winter

The costs of combating this winter’s tumultuous weather are quickly adding up for area governments, businesses and residents.

Winter officially began less than a month ago, but the first significant snowfall beat it to the punch-arriving in early December.

Since then the complications of a several snow events in early January followed by subzero temperatures last week have resulted in bursting pipes, property damage, overtime hours and other costly problems.

In Marietta, the streets department is on track to soon surpass the amount of salt and number of overtime hours that it used for the entire 2012-2013 snow season, said Marietta Streets Superintendent Todd Stockel.

“It’s only Jan. 14. As far as material, we’ve already used as much material as we used all last (season),” he said.

The city used 200 tons of salt throughout the course of the 2012-2013 winter season and have already hit that mark this year, said Stockel.

Overtime hours are similar. Stockel estimates the city streets department has come close to matching the 175 overtime hours for snow removal that they used last winter.

If it snows again, those numbers could be surpassed, he said.

The city water department also has a lot of overtime hours this winter, particularly in relation to water lines damaged in last week’s freezing temperatures. However, the vast majority of call-outs were not related to city pipes, said City Water Superintendent Jeff Kephart.

“About 90 percent of our craziness was dealing with our customers’ (freezing and bursting pipe) problems that they were responsible for. It was their private service,” he said.

In such cases, the customers are billed for the call-out fee, said Kephart.

The city experienced two water line breaks Jan. 8, one on Washington Street and one on Front Street. However, both breaks were related to faulty pipes and not the weather, said Kephart.

Marietta College was working Tuesday to repair damages caused when water lines burst in three campus buildings.

“It’s more cosmetic at this point. We’ve got to fix the ceilings,” said Tom Perry, executive director for strategic communications and marketing for the college.

The water leaks-in Andrews Hall, the McDonough Center for Leadership and Business and the Physician’s Assistant building-have not affected classes but college officials were considering the possibility of needing to cancel an upcoming event in one of the buildings, said Perry.

The weather has been kinder to the county engineer’s office, which has not experienced any major damage as a result of the weather.

“We’ve had some culverts plugged and frozen. We had to remove the clog to get the water flowing,” said Washington County Highway Superintendent Calvin Becker.

January statistics are not available for salt usage and overtime hours, said Becker. However, this winter’s material and manpower usage appear to be on par with that of the previous winter, he said.

“We’ve been out a few times and hit kind of hard. We’ve also had the last few days that have been relatively warm. On the average, it’s equaling out,” said Becker.

As of Dec. 31, the county had spent more on salt and less on overtime than it did for the previous year.

The county spent $36,266 on materials and used 341 hours of overtime between October and December 2012 compared to $39,533 and 280 hours for that same time frame in 2013, said Becker.

This year’s winter does appear to be surpassing last year’s in terms of severity, said Marietta City safety-service director Jonathan Hupp. However, last winter was relatively mild, he said.

“When the mayor was sworn into office two years ago we had a call-out for snow. I think it is sizing up to be in line with that winter two years ago,” he said.