MUSKEGON COUNTY, Mich. — Winter weather is kicking off with a bang this season.
West Michigan has already seen more snowfall so far compared to the same time last year.
“I’ve been plowing snow for give years,” said Rich Humphrey, a Muskegon County Plow Truck Driver.
He may be one of the younger members of the Muskegon County Road Maintenance team, but he’s well versed in the whims of winter weather on the lakeshore.
The past few years Mother Nature has waited until January to crank out the winter-type weather and he has taken notice.
“We got it pretty early,” Humphrey said. “This is the first year we got it this early. I was surprised about it, but I’m ready for it.”
Muskegon County Maintenance Superintendent Laurie Peterson says she’s not sure what the rest of the winter will bring.
“I’ve heard two different stories. The first story was it will be over with at the end of January,” she said. “But, then I’ve also had heard this is going to be one of the worst winters that we have.”
They already have a winter snow budget ready to do battle against the snow machine in the 2014 budget year.
This is what budgets have looked like in year’s past.
In Muskegon during the mild winter about two years ago they spent around $1.4 Million from 2011-2012.
“We were able to keep our salt and we didn’t run out of salt and it was great,” said Peterson.
However, she said that was a unique year.
The last budget year, they spent $2.5 Million from 2012 – 2013.
So far this budget year, they’ve Spent $124,361 to date through Dec. 7.
They still have about $3.1 million left in the budget for maintenance for the rest of the fiscal period.
In Ottawa County on local and state lines, they reported spending around $4.6 million in 2011, $2.5 million in 2012 and $4.2 million in their budget year of 2013.
In Kent County, their winter budget was 3.8 million from 2010-2011, 2.2 million from 2011-2012 and 3.4 million from 2012-2013.
They have $4 million budgeted this year.
In Ionia County on local and county routes only, they spent $752,000 in 2011, $421,000 in 2012 and $506,000 so far in 2013 with about one month to go in the budget year.
They had $185,00 left to spend in December as of December, 10.
They will ask for more money to cover these winter storms if needed in late December.
Humphrey is hopeful this winter turns out to be average.
“We’re supposed to get quite a bit of snow,” he said. “But, I think it will be average. Hopefully the temperatures stay up,” said Humphrey.
He wants people to remember they are working around the clock to clear whatever mother nature dumps at our door.
“We’re doing the best we can do with the workers we have,”‘ said Humphrey.