- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 3, 2014

NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (AP) - The Lincoln County highway superintendent says the frugality his department has been practicing is getting costly.

Superintendent Jerry Hitchcock asked the Board of Commissioners on Monday to keep his department in mind as budget decisions are made for the next fiscal year, The North Platte Telegraph said (https://bit.ly/1nLlnnv ).

“We’ve practiced frugality out of necessity, but now it’s leading us down the road of becoming more expensive,” Hitchcock said.

Budget constraints have prevented him from replacing his old, worn-out equipment, thus requiring more and more maintenance to meet the work demands.

For example, Hitchcock said, the department’s 21 graders average 16 years in age and have an average of 14,877 hours on them.

“Dealers recommend a major overhaul at 15,000 hours,” Hitchcock said. “We’ve run the machines to 25,000 hours without an overhaul, which is a tribute to the fine work of our maintenance crew, but not ideal.”

Department pickups average 15 years with nearly 175,000 miles on them. The dump trucks average 19 years in age and more than 246,000 miles on the odometer.

“And, those are very rough miles,” Hitchcock said. “Ninety percent of the use is on gravel roads or sand.”

He estimates that by the end of the fiscal year, June 30, the repairs will total as much as $275,000.

“We’re trying to be as conservative as possible,” Hitchcock said. “We’ve had a couple employees leave, and I’ve chosen not to replace them. But if we cut back our employee numbers, it affects the services we offer.”

The department has already scaled back roadside mowing, he said, and the budget situation might get to a point where mowing services cease.

The commissioners didn’t take any action on the situation Monday but said they’d consider suggestions for solutions.


Information from: The North Platte Telegraph, https://www.nptelegraph.com

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