Crews will clear snow in 24 hours pending stipend from county

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published October 5, 2011


The Troy City Council has taken the first step to ensure that Troy residents will only have to wait 24 hours to get streets plowed to the pavement this winter.

The council unanimously reinstated the 24-hour snow removal protocol following the stoppage of snowfall of more than 4 inches. The council had amended the policy last year to allow for 72 hours to cut costs.

The council discussed the matter at length during a study session Sept. 12 and passed a resolution at its Sept. 26 meeting, contingent upon the approval of a contract from the Road Commission for Oakland County for a stipend, estimated to be about $250,000, to clear county roads.

The Road Commission contract is expected to come before the council Oct. 17.

Under past contracts, the city agreed to plow South Boulevard, Long Lake, Big Beaver, Maple, a portion of 14 Mile, Dequindre, John R, Livernois, Crooks and Adams roads, which fall under county jurisdiction. The city has jurisdiction over and maintains Coolidge, Rochester, Wattles, Square Lake and Stephenson.

The Road Commission maintains and plows I-75 and subdivisions in other jurisdictions, such as Oakland Township.

The cost to the city for the 24-hour protocol is estimated to be $425,000.

The council discussed the change back to the 24-hour snow removal protocol after Troy City Manager John Szerlag revealed last month that city employee concessions and early retirements resulted in $2.6 million back in the general fund. The council put four police positions that had been slated to be cut back into the budget last month; the move will cost about $450,000 a year.

During the budget process this past spring, the City Council restored eight positions to the Department of Public Works, which an International City/ County Management Association study said was needed to keep city services sustainable.

Tim Richnak, public works director, said that the eight staff members were critical to returning to the 24-hour protocol.

He noted that Troy has been maintaining county roads for nine years. In 2008 and 2009, the city spent more than the county allotment to clear county roads to the 24-hour standard, about $92,000 more on average.

Richnak said that with less city staff, clearing of parking lots and sidewalks near city facilities will be contracted out in order to adhere to the 24-hour guideline.

“This is certainly something we heard at engagement sessions,” Mayor Louise Schilling said, referring to residents’ frustration over the change last year to the 72-hour protocol.

This past winter, some Troy residents waited up to three days for the snowplows to clear snow from their street after a 9-inch snowfall Feb. 20.

“I think it’s a good use for the extra money,” Councilman Dane Slater said.