After snowy trial season, supervisors satisfied Grafton company able to keep pace with winter
When Town of Saukville officials contracted with Jim’s Maintenance to provide snow-plowing services for four months, it was with the understanding that the agreement was on a trial basis.
The switch to a private contractor was a bit risky, because the Ozaukee County Highway Department has always plowed town roads.
Officials, however, were concerned about the rising cost of the county service and the decision was made to try a private plower.
Based on its favorable experience during a decidedly unfavorable winter, the Town Board voted last week to approve a two-year contract with the Grafton company.
Supr. Curt Rutkowski, who has generally been given the task of monitoring road maintenance in the town, said the private plowing service made a good first impression.
“Our initial contract was for January to May and that was on purpose. We wanted to see what kind of service we would get and I have been generally pleased,” Rutkowski said.
“You can talk with Jim, but I know town residents have stopped their drivers and thanked them for the job they were doing.”
Rutkowski said the company offered the option of a one or two-year contract, following the same cost schedule as was in place this year.
“I have no hesitation with a two-year contract. It gives them a little more cushion when it comes to planning for equipment,” he said.
One cost that will increase under the new contract is salt, which has become an increasingly expensive commodity for all municipalities and plowing services.
The cost of salt will increase from $75 a ton to $95 a ton.
To minimize that expense, owner Jim Proefrock recommended a greater emphasis be placed on using sand instead of salt.
During the trial season, he said about 10 to 12 tons of salt was typically used when roads were icy. Following a Jan. 10 ice storm — the worst such storm in nearly two decades, the company had to use 80 tons of salt to keep town roads safe.
According to the contract, the company is to plow town roads whenever there is more than a two-inch snowfall. Roads must be passable by 5 a.m. following an overnight storm, with two lanes cleared by 7 a.m.
The Ozaukee County Sheriff’s Department notifies the company when town roads are deemed snow-covered and slippery.
The company is paid a flat hourly rate depending on what equipment is used, ranging from $80 to $105 an hour.
That provision was especially appealing to town officials, who noted the town often paid overtime hours when the county was plowing its roads.
The company has six five-yard dump trucks equipped with plow blades and salters, three three-yard dump trucks with 10-foot plow blades and a four-wheel-drive truck with plow.
Jim’s Maintenance was also hired to handle ditch clearing and brush cutting.
“This is the biggest issue I get calls about,” said new Town Chairman Don Hamm.
The board voted to spend up to $15,000, at a cost of $75 an hour, to clear ditches back as close to the property line as practical.
In addition, up to $7,500 will be spent to clear brush along town roads.