Late Winter Means Late Spending For Road Commissions

Posted at 6:43 PM, Mar 19, 2013
and last updated 2013-03-19 20:20:48-04

KENT COUNTY, Mich. — As road budget usage continues to climb with a late winter in West Michigan, road commissions don’t seem to be worried.

“We budget on a five-year winter average and we averaged about 75-78 inches of snow,” Jerry Byrne of the Kent County Road Commission says, “and usually we can hit that pretty close.”

Kent County has spent almost exactly 80% of its annual winter budget.

“When you look at the snowfall, we’re about 80% of 75 inches, so we’re about where we need to be.”

FOX 17 checked in with road commissions across West Michigan Tuesday.

Kalamazoo and Muskegon Counties have both gone through more than 70% of their annual projected spending.

More than 90% of Ottawa County’s budget has been spent.

Spring begins Wednesday, but Byrne knows winter budget surpluses can’t be moved towards other season projects yet.

“I’ve been in this business for 35 years,” he says, “so I know ‘Don’t spend the money before winter’s over.’ The public will call, politicians will even call saying, ‘Looks like a light winter. What are we gonna spend it on?’ I tell them, ‘Let’s wait until the end of April and we’ll decide what we’re gonna spend it on.'”

So what does the extra money go to? Last year’s $1.5 million surplus went immediately back into the roads.

“What we did was paved more roads, so we didn’t roll it year-to-year,” Byrne says.

“We stuck it into the roads where it belongs.”