Fingers crossed, towns brace for one more snowstormHope to make salt, sand last until spring
With another winter storm in the forecast, for Thursday, March 13, Midcoast towns are crossing their fingers and hoping to get through the snow season without busting winter maintenance budgets.
“We'll be glad when winter ends,” said Lincolnville Town Administrator David Kinney. His town is doing better than some, with what Kinney expects will be enough sand to get through the winter. He said the town had not needed to buy additional sand since January.
It buys salt along with 16 other Knox and Waldo county towns, on an as-needed basis. Unlike Camden and Rockport, Lincolnville does not do its own winter road maintenance, but instead contracts for it.
Kinney noted the town had used more sand and salt this winter than in previous years, and next year's budget, which is now being crafted, will contain more money for sand. Since so much has been used this year, it will take more to fill the town's sand shed in anticipation of next winter's storms, he said.
Appleton's Donald Burke, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, said in January the town was about to buy more sand. He confirmed that purchase as well as another of additional sand and salt within the last two to three weeks. He said he thought the latest purchase would see the town through the rest of the season.
Burke said the town would exceed its winter maintenance budget for this year by about $7,100. He did not know yet whether Appleton would plan to spend more next year, because he had not received the road commissioner's recommendations, he said.
In Camden, Public Works Director Rick Seibel said, “Things are tight.” He has not bought any more sand since the beginning of the year, and expects to stay just within his budget for winter maintenance, he said.
“I have money in reserve anyhow,” he said, adding he is getting close to his budget for overtime, which can run up to 150 hours in a big storm, depending on the weather's timing. Sometimes workers will take compensatory time instead of pay, or for a portion of worked overtime, which saves the town money, he said.
Seibel sounded a note of hope, saying, “It gets a lot easier when the temperatures come up.” Temperatures closer to freezing mean less salt and sand are required to make roads safe.
The town of Hope bought 400 cubic yards of sand in early February, and as much more around the end of the month, according to the minutes of the Feb. 25 selectmen's meeting. In January Town Administrator Jon Duke said in the seven years he had been in town, Hope had never before needed to replenish its sand in the middle of the season.
“These storms have put a big hit into our sand and salt pile,” Duke previously said. At that time, Hope had already used 900 yards of sand, he said.
Mike Young, director of public works in Rockport, is also hoping to eke out the supplies he has until the end of the season.
“I think I'm just going to make it through the winter,” he said. He said the town is getting near the end of its salt supply, even though he bought 120 tons of it about a month ago.
However, he expects to be able to keep the roads maintained as they have been so far this season.
“It's been a pretty harsh winter,” Young said.
Sarah E. Reynolds is copy editor for the Courier Gazette and Camden Herald.
Sarah E. Reynolds has been a reporter and writer for more than 20 years, winning awards from the Maine Press Association and other professional organizations. She loves to read, ride her ATV and play word games.
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