LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) – The snow and an extremely cold winter means the City of La Crosse is reaching into its salt and sand stock, and its overtime budget.
The city begins each winter with 3,000 tons of salt, according to Public Works Director Dale Hexom. And there's a reserve of another 700 tons.
While Public Works hasn't dipped into that reserve, already they're using a lot of salt and sand when the temperature dips into the teens or below. When it's that cold, just using salt loses its effect, Hexom said.
Snowfalls on weekends and holidays, like Christmas, have the city using their overtime
budget as well.
The annual overtime budget is $55,000, according to Hexom.
Public Works finished 2013 with $8,000 left in the budget, he said. In January 2014 alone, the city's used about $4,000.
Hexom said the city tries to plan ahead by scheduling staff when snow is expected, but that's not always possible.
The budget is used year-round. In the summer overtime is often used for construction projects.
"It's the nuisance snows. The ones where we get ¾ (of an inch), an inch, an inch and a half, 2 inches (of snow multiple) times a week that sometimes causes more problems," Hexom said. "Because there's really not enough snow there to plow, but yet the streets are slick and slippery."
The city uses a salt and sand mixture to help combat those slick roads.
But Hexom said in low temperatures crews are also using salt brine, liquid calcium chloride, to help de-ice the streets. They have tanks on the back of their plows that spread it.
The city spends about $180,000 on salt. They get a discounted group rate as part of a state-wide contract with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.