Nancy Stahoviak, Doug Monger and Diane Mitsch Bush: Snow removal

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As the Routt County Board of County Commissioners, we did not commit to maintaining snow plowing service levels as set forth in the 2010 budget. We did not decide to materially reduce service levels for weekend snow plowing on gravel roads. This is in contrast to the Dec. 3, 2009, Steamboat Today news story that highlighted Routt County funding for snow removal in the 2010 budget.

The Routt County Board of Commissioners wishes to communicate to the public that this service for the winter, especially for weekend efforts, has not dramatically changed from past years. Routt County will continue to monitor warnings for winter weather and will strive to meet the public safety challenges, as well as ensure the safety of Road and Bridge Department crews. The Road and Bridge personnel budget for 2010 is funded at $2,682,240. The level of Road and Bridge funding does include reductions in the overtime budget from $46,000 budgeted in 2009 to $30,000 budgeted in 2010. The reduction in the overtime budget for 2010 came with a direction from the Board of County Commissioners to the Road and Bridge Department to utilize compensatory time and flexible work weeks within a pay period to manage overtime worked in order to stay within budgeted amounts and keep our roads safe and driveable.

In 2009, the weekend plow crew was reduced after there were no applications to fill positions and then the positions were eliminated through the hiring freeze, a decision to not fill one position because of shrinking revenues. Subsequently, county staff recommended eliminating the weekend crew for 2010. The weekend crew of four was created for the 2007 and 2008 winter season when there was adequate revenue. While the reduction in the overtime budget could cause a small reduction in service, overtime for weekend snow plowing will be managed through flexible crew schedules when possible, and the use of compensatory time off for employees rather than overtime pay. Recent work efforts concerning weekend snow plowing, specifically on Dec. 13, 2009, primarily were decisions based on weather conditions and timing and were only minimally, if at all, affected by the budget reductions. In addition, the route plan for plowing snow always will affect the time of day that any section of road is plowed.

The county snow plowing schedule is based on the Routt County Road and Bridge Road Maintenance Plan adopted in 1996. This plan established four categories of roads — primary, rural, remote and minimal. These categories identify the priority for snow plowing. Primary roads are plowed first. Rural roads may not be plowed as promptly as primary roads, and remote roads have the lowest priority for snow plowing. Roads in the minimal maintenance category are not maintained and are impassable during the winter.

On weekdays after significant snowfall, Road and Bridge crews normally are plowing primary roads by 4:30 a.m. with school bus routes receiving primary care. Routt County will continue to provide snow plowing on weekends. Weekend snow plowing starts on an as-needed basis, which is determined by road classification, location and weather conditions. Citizens living on county roads always should use caution when driving in winter conditions, and whenever possible, should consider staying home during winter storms. If a citizen does not know the classification and maintenance/snow plowing priority of their road, they can contact the Routt County Road and Bridge Department at 970-879-0108 for that information. We urge all citizens to contact us directly on this or any other issue at 970-879-0108 or BCC@co.routt.co.us. We are committed to providing a balance of public services and infrastructure to provide a safe and healthy place to live for present and future generations.

Nancy Stahoviak, Doug Monger and Diane Mitsch Bush

Routt County Board of County Commissioners

Comments

justice4all 4 years, 12 months ago

With the reduction in services to the rural un-paved roads should come a reduction in rural taxes. The county has a STATUTORY requirement to provide services such as FIRE, POLICE and MEDICAL and thus their ability to respond in an emergency situation to ALL of Routt County. The response of the commissioners to this matter was prompted by county residents' concerns of NOT being able to be served by these necessary services. The roads included in this concern had not been plowed for three days and had in excess of FOUR FOOT drifts and 20 inches of snow throughout. I personally took my tractor and rescued 2 people that had been stranded for over 4 hours. One of these was a 79 year old man that had run out of gas while running his engine to stay warm. He was blue/gray in color and nearly frozen--- barely able to talk when I got to him. I was able to get him into my tractor and warm him up. He recovered and is doing well. There was no way an ambulance could have responded. The snow plow finally came by at 0930. Look at the "WHAT_IFS" here. What if there was a medical emergency, a house fire, a serious crime and so on???? I am sure that our insurance rates would increase if the insurance companies knew that a fire truck could not respond. What if the county STOPPED SPENDING/ WASTING our money on "TOURISM" and took care of the people that are here and support our county all year??? Spend $$$$ after we have an excess or surplus and the basics are taken care of. Is that how our commissioners run their own households?? What if next time we elected commissioners that would care of the ones that elected them??? What if we took care of the "HOME FOLKS" first. We do not need justice for the people on paved roads only. What we do need is "justice4all".

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mmjPatient22 4 years, 12 months ago

justice4all- Great points! I don't even know you or the elderly man but I extend my thanks for saving those people all the same. For people who haven't been in that particular situation, stranded in the snow with walking long distances being your only option, it's pretty damn scary if you're caught unprepared. Being stranded is scary enough, but being stranded in a desolate area that doesn't have cell phone coverage can make things exponentially worse. Unfortunately, it sounds like most of the soon to be ignored roads are in areas just like that. I'm no rocket scientist but it doesn't seem very intelligent to cut back on basic snow services to these areas. Since this looks like it's going to happen regardless, maybe it would be prudent to publish an approximate schedule of when it might be safe for people to travel on their roads.

Lastly, "We do not need justice for the people on paved roads only. What we do need is 'justice4all'." Is this an announcement for a candidacy of sorts?

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housepoor 4 years, 12 months ago

good points, taxes should be based on services used, like miles of road plowed divided by homes that live on it

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sledneck 4 years, 12 months ago

I totally agree with "justice". Stop wasting $$. We all have to get our priorities in better order.

Does anyone realize the County has agreed, in principle, or is seriously considering plowing several miles of USFS 550 north of Columbine? A road nobady even lives on! What kind of precedent does it set to plow a USFS road? A VERY BAD ONE!

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ybul 4 years, 12 months ago

Those houses that are on roads that did not get plowed are serviced by roads that did get plowed. Maybe those who live on some of those more remote roads could help plow the roads with their tractors and be given an allowance for fuel used, or something.

Government can't be thought of as providing everything, in a blizzard even places with far bigger budgets have problems keeping roads clear. It does not take very long to cover up a road when the wind is blowing and drifting snow. Major highways get closed in major storms, rural roads are going to have times when they get covered up.

Though I tend to agree that we need to prioritize where money is spent, as at times it seems like the money being spent does nothing more than keep the community on a treadmill.

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aichempty 4 years, 12 months ago

Some of us pay taxes for road maintenance in addition to homeowners association fees for maintenance of county roads, including snow plowing.

If the HOA fees were diverted into taxation to support county road and bridge operations, it would result in at least $45,000 per year in my neighborhood alone. Take the other fees away from the HOA and put them into the purpose they are supposed to serve (road maintenance) and it would result in an additional $100,000 per year on top of the $45k.

Doesn't it make more sense to take the money that's actually being spent to maintain county roads and give it to the agency best equipped to do the job? Plus, the money would ensure more income and continued employment for those in the road and bridge department.

Property owners in Routt County pay taxes for maintenance of county roads already, and even the vacant land pays into the pot. A bigger road and bridge department with capacity to serve all of the county's roads year-round, replacing private contractors who do the job in various subdivisions, makes a lot more sense. The plows are up here anyway on CR-129, so an extra hour every time it snows in return for $145,000+ annually seems like a win-win situation.

Not to mention the fact that the County imposes the burden on HOAs to keep the roads clear for emergency services, so if the County can require people to spend the money inefficiently on private contractors, why can't the County collect the taxes and do the job themselves as they are required to do by law, and as supported by the taxes we already pay.

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justice4all 4 years, 12 months ago

mmjPatient22 Sorry that I took so long to respond to you and many thanks for your comment. I have been plowing snow and feeding livestock. No, my post in no way is meant to imply a pending candidacy. I am just a common working man that trys to look out for everyone and do the best that I can for my fellow man. My mission in life is to seek "justice4all". HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL

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Zed 4 years, 11 months ago

How many years have you lived in Routt County? And you were caught off guard by a road that was impassible due to snow? I agree with the points about demanding services equal to the taxes you pay, but aren't there inevitable risks that come with living in desolate areas, like snow covered roads?

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ybul 4 years, 11 months ago

So what happens when that subdivision that the county did not want to pay for road maintenance on becomes the responsibility of the road department? Those who live in that development will not want to pay more in taxes than those who do not live in the neighborhood. We should have the county maintain all of Hayden's roads also right?

Also, if your subdivision requires 1 hour of plowing every snow for $45k, then I think you should examine who is in charge of giving out snow removal contracts, on the other 100k just wow, just like government can run amok I think that you HOA has also. My fathers HOA's dues are 1/3 of any other HOA in his area because someone actually manages it to keep fees low. Maybe someone should do so for you.

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