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