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Cheap Gas Helps Local Governments Offset Last Year’s Plowing Costs

Heavy Snow Last Winter Left Many Cities, Counties With Budget Gaps

Plows were in high demand throughout the state last winter. | Photo: Michael Pereckas (CC)

Individual commuters aren’t the ones enjoying falling gas prices. Lower fuel costs have also given local governments in Wisconsin some extra breathing room in their budgets.

But, for many Wisconsin cities and counties, any savings might need to be used to cover extra costs from last winter.

According to Gasbuddy.com, gas in Wisconsin dropped $1.40 per gallon between July 2014 and the new year. The price of diesel dropped about 40 cents during the same period. That adds up if you’ve got a fleet of trucks to fill.

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Chippewa County highway commissioner Bruce Stelzner said the savings will be used to pay for extra snow plowing last winter.

“We were in a deficit position for winter maintenance for 2014 of about $1 million,” said Stelzner. “So, any fuel savings that we had will certainly help as we go into trying to figure out how to pay for that winter overage.”

It’s the same story in other parts of the state. Winter maintenance budgets were in the red by around $85,000 in Douglas County, $200,000 in the city of Wausau and $350,000 in Dunn County.