Waldoboro sand, snow removal causes stormy debate
Waldoboro — A speech by a resident during the Dec. 11 Board of Selectmen meeting led to contentious talk regarding the public works department's use of overtime during winter storms.
Resident John Higgins alleged that Waldoboro had already spent 20 percent of its public works overtime budget — approximately $10,000 — in order to sand roads during recent storms.
"Sanding is needed, but that is an atrocious amount," Higgins said. "I think something's gotta be done to control this in some way or other. I don't know what management can do or what can be done, but it's an atrocious amount for not having snow."
Selectman Carl Cunningham agreed, and quoted documents that said $4,313 was spent to pay public works employees during the Dec. 5 storm.
"That's about 20 hours per man, and when you've got seven men out there, I don't think it's necessary. I think maybe have seven in the beginning for four hours, and then you could pick up the rest with maybe three men working full time," Cunningham said.
However, according to Town Manager John Spear, Waldoboro had only spent $6,287 of its public works overtime budget as of Dec. 11. "It's more like 10 percent of the overtime budget," he said.
Spear said Dec. 14 that he spoke with Public Works Director John Daigle, who explained the details of the November and December storm situations. However, since the Board of Selectmen did not take any action on the matter, no changes to the town's snow removal policy are planned at this point.
Spear said he thinks it's easier for people to understand the importance of winter highway maintenance during blizzards than icy rain.
"What a lot of people don't understand," Spear said, "[is that] when it's freezing rain or icy, it doesn't look like much, but it can lead to conditions that rapidly change."
Spear added that town office workers say they have received many complaints about too little sanding and plowing, but that they have never received a single phone call regarding too much winter road maintenance.
Courier Publications reporter Bane Okholm can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 125 or by email at email@example.com.