AUSTINTOWN Road plowing, salting take a toll on township budget

A new tax levy will eventually be needed, the clerksaid.
AUSTINTOWN -- The cost of snow and ice removal on township roads is plowing heavily into the township's budget.
Every time it snows, it costs township taxpayers $7,500 to $10,000 to clear the roads, Michael J. Kurish, township clerk, said Monday. Snow and ice removal costs include salt, fuel, vehicle maintenance and wages, including significant overtime because much snow removal occurs outside of regular working hours, he noted.
The township has 14 snow and ice removal trucks, and it typically takes them 71/2 hours to clear township roads after a snow or ice storm, he said.
The network of roads the township must maintain has been growing by about a mile a year for the past decade as new residential communities add more streets, he said.
Trustees have adopted temporary appropriations of between $8 million and $9 million for this calendar year, and must adopt a permanent budget by April 1, Kurish said.
Lean times
"We are, as a township, trying to sincerely do more with less," he said, but he added that the township will eventually have to place a new tax levy on the ballot. Kurish said he couldn't specify how large a levy would be needed and when it might go before the voters.
"In 2002, we ended with fewer employees than we ended in 2001. And I will be most surprised if we do not end 2003 with fewer employees than we ended 2002. You can only cut so far," Trustee Chairman Richard Edwards said.
The township, which has about 110 employees, has been reducing staff by not replacing those who resign or retire, Kurish said.

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