Two snowstorms and cleanup cost RCOC nearly $3 million and 9,000 hours of O/T work

The back-to-back snowstorms that dumped nearly two feet of snow on Oakland County between Dec. 31 and Jan. 11 cost the Road Commission for Oakland County (RCOC) nearly $3 million to clean up and required the use nearly 9,000 hours of overtime work by RCOC staff.

“This was an historic series of events,” explained RCOC Chairman Greg Jamian.

“First, the storm that started New Year’s Eve brought about six inches of snow. Four days later, just as we were completing cleanup of that storm, the monster storm arrived, dumping another 12 to 16 inches of snow. That was followed by record low temperatures, which in turn were followed by a ‘heat wave’ of temperatures in the 40s with heavy rain. If you were trying to design weather conditions to wreak the most havoc on roads, you couldn’t do much better than this.”

Salt trucksThe $3 million cost includes the regular and overtime wages of employees working on storm-related activities (plowing, salting, mechanics keeping trucks running, etc.) as well as the costs of operating RCOC’s fleet of salt/plow trucks, materials used (salt, brine and sand) as well as the cost of using contractors to help clear subdivision and back roads.

“That’s $3 million that we no longer have available for repairing roads,” Jamian said. He noted that the rapid freeze/thaw and the rain followed by the re-freeze also did tremendous damage to roads, causing countless potholes countywide and rendering many gravel roads nearly impassable in the more rural areas.

“Even though our workers were exhausted from fighting the storms, as soon as the snow was cleaned up, we immediately began to patch potholes and address the gravel roads,” Jamian said.

Jamian praised the Road Commission employees for their commitment and willingness to go the extra mile and work extended hours, especially at a time when many people are spending time at home with family. “On New Year’s Day and in the days and weeks since then, many of our employees have worked extensive amounts of overtime. Most of them do this because they recognize the importance of their jobs to the safety of the motorists of Oakland County, and I thank them for all they have been doing.”

The money spent to battle the storm is funding that is now not available for resurfacing roads in the spring and summer, for replacing aging equipment or for any other road improvement activities that are sorely needed.

Jamian noted RCOC operating revenues are derived from the state-collected gas and diesel taxes and vehicle registration fees. “Many people think we are funded through property taxes, but we are not. We don’t receive your property taxes,” he said, adding that revenue from the fuel taxes and vehicle registration fees fell significantly during the last 10 years.

However, the agency has taken a number of steps to try to reduce the impact of the falling revenue on the level of service, such as hiring contractors to help plow subdivisions and back roads. Also, this year, for the second year, RCOC hired part-time, seasonal workers to assist full-time staff in fighting the snowstorms.

“We are doing everything we can, with the resources available, to provide the highest level of service and the safest roads we can,” Jamian said.


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