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      Snow causes budget problems that may lead to layoffs

      D ollar bills are dropping as fast as the snow is falling for the Emmet County Road Commission.

      A lot of early season snow has one northern Michigan road commission battling a budget shortfall that could lead to layoffs.

      E mmet County Road Commissioners met today to figure out a way to keep the roads clean despite limited funding.

      " We are just hoping the winter is going to slow down ," Brian Gutowski, Emmet County Road Commission Manager said.

      D ollar bills are dropping as fast as the snow is falling for the Emmet County Road Commission.

      " The more materials we go through this time of year means less money for summer ," Gutowski explained.

      D ue to heavy snow falls and bad road conditions , the snow plows have been operating for 25 days in a row , unloading salt onto the roadways and costing the county thousands in overtime pay for drivers.

      And a s much as this department tries to plan ahead for vicious winter weather , it ' s hard to do so with very little state funding.

      "W hen you are operating under 11-year-old funding it's tough to maintain a situation like we are today," Gutowski said.

      T he payout from the state has been the same since 2003. H owever , the prices for gas, salt, and other departmental needs have gone up.

      A nd the intense northern Michigan winters have not slowed down.

      " If worse comes to worse , if the winter does get bad and continues on there might be some temporary layoffs unfortunately ," Gutowski said.

      T his department is exploring the option of layoffs and holding off road maintenance for the rest of the year.

      T he situation is different in each county.

      I n Wexford, the road manger says his budget is in good shape. And in Grand Traverse, they added $400,000 dollars to this years budget to help.

      D espite the growing budget issues in Emmet, the road commission insists that the roads will stay clean.

      " We are going to continue plowing the roads ," Gutowski said. "But y ou're not going to see as much salt put ou t."