SHARON CITY COUNCIL PennDOT receives chilly response to its offer for snow plowing
The state says the amount isn't negotiable.
By HAROLD GWIN
VINDICATOR SHARON BUREAU
SHARON, Pa. -- City council doesn't think the $9,445 the state is offering is enough for the city to handle winter maintenance of 4.7 miles of state roads in Sharon.
Council has balked at renewing the annual winter maintenance agreement, saying it costs the city more than that to provide the service on main streets like State Street and Sharpsville Avenue.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation said council needs to act soon to renew the agreement which must be approved in Harrisburg by Oct. 15.
Mayor David O. Ryan, who thinks the city should take the PennDOT deal, said it's really a safety issue. The city can't afford to let the East State Street hill go untouched during a winter storm, he said.
PennDOT representatives attended Thursday's city council meeting to explain their position.
The state can't match the service that the city's own crews provide on those roadways, said Dave Bollenbacher, PennDOT's Mercer County maintenance manager.
If PennDOT has to take over those streets again, they will be put on a route that will bring a PennDOT truck back only once every two or 21/2 hours, he said.
He also said the winter service agreement fee is set by the state and isn't negotiable. It's based on road miles and other factors, he said.
Bollenbacher pointed out that the state sometimes gives supplemental payments to municipalities in the program when a winter has been particularly bad.
Last winter was one of those and Sharon got an additional $4,600 for a total of $14,012, said Michael Gasparich, city finance director.
Council didn't appear swayed by Bollenbacher's position and took no vote on the contract although Fred Hoffman, council president, said council will probably make that decision at its Sept. 16 meeting.
"We're terribly dissatisfied with PennDOT," Hoffman said, noting that the state seems to be backing off from a promise to repave the Shenango Valley Freeway from Connelly Boulevard to the Ohio state line this year.
Ryan said PennDOT has said the job would be done this year, but Bollenbacher told council Thursday that it is under consideration.
Ryan said that, even if council refuses to accept the PennDOT contract, city salt trucks will be hitting the East State Street hill when the snow starts to fly.
It's a public safety issue, he said.