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'Nuisance' snows cost cold, hard cash

| Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013, 12:41 a.m.
Connellsville Street Department foreman Vern Ohler looks over the city's snow removal equipment. “Nuisance snows” are keeping area municipal street crews busy. Evan R. Sanders | Daily Courier -- inside the garage bay on Tuesday, February 19, 2013.

This winter's “nuisance snows” are keeping area municipal street crews busy — and taking a bite out of budgets dedicated to overtime pay.

Connellsville has five full-time employees in its Streets Department, said city Clerk Toni Tesauro.

The 2013 budget includes $10,000 for department overtime, she said.

Snow removal beyond the crew's scheduled work hours is typically at the discretion of the police department.

“The police will call the street foreman and let him know (the roads are) getting bad,” Tesauro said.

So far, snow removal has cost Connellsville nearly $5,000 in overtime pay.

The crew, from the most recently hired at $13.44 per hour to the longest tenured at $24.73 per hour, receive 1½ time their hourly rate when called out before or after their shifts, Tesauro said.

Scottdale and Mount Pleasant street department crew members also receive overtime compensation of 1½ their hourly rates.

Scottdale Borough Manager Angelo Pallone said this winter's pattern seems to include enough snow to coat the roads and then freeze.

“So we call the street crew in to plow and salt. Unfortunately, it seems to be happening on evenings and weekends. There has been some overtime this year we did not have last year, but better safe than sorry,” he said.

Pallone said the Scottdale's street department employs three full-time workers. The crew leader earns $19.25 per hour,and the other two are paid $18.10 per hour.

The borough budget includes $10,150 set aside for overtime pay. Pallone estimated this week that costs so far this winter have totaled about $3,000.

Crew members make the call to remove snow while on shift, Pallone said, with police officers calling them in when they notice conditions worsening.

“We had overtime over the weekend,” Mt. Pleasant Borough Manager Jeff Landy said this week.

The budget includes $3,500 for snow-removal overtime pay and another $3,500 for emergency department needs, he said.

More than one-half of the budget has been used to date.

“Obviously, if we get more overtime, we have to pull more money from other areas to offset (the expenditure),” Landy said.

“This winter is more of a nuisance type of snow,” he said.

Rather than single, significant snowfalls, precipitation sometimes comes in the form of freezing rain.

“That can be worse. Ice is tougher (than snow),” he said.

The three-man street crew earns hourly wages ranging from $18.20 to $19.70.

“I expect to get more of that (nuisance snow). We may have to dip into the emergency fund,” Landy said.

Mary Pickels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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