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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Snowplows seeking shelter as city eyes public works budget

Mar 16, 2020 01:08PM ● By Cassie Goff

Plans for new public works facilities would store the majority of equipment, but additional storage sheds will be needed to protect all the equipment from Utah’s weather cycles. (Cottonwood Heights)

By Cassie Goff | [email protected]

During the Cottonwood Heights City Council budget retreat discussed in an adjacent article, the council requested to get more information about the proposed public works building. On Feb. 4, Public Works Director Matt Shipp and Finance Director Scott Jurges presented that information. 

Currently, the Cottonwood Heights Public Works site (6579 South 3000 East) is only partially developed. There is a trailer that houses the public works crew break area, bathrooms and offices; there are also some storage facilities, used primarily for salt storage. 

Plans for the remaining facilities for the public works site were previously drafted but have been waiting for funding. The plans for facilities include equipment bays (primarily for the snowplows), additional storage sheds and an office building. 

“The priority would be the bays,” said Shipp. The bays would fit most of the main equipment, but not all of it, which is where the additional storage sheds come in. 

“We need to get the equipment in a controlled environment,” Shipp said. The public works crew members face problems when equipment is left out in the elements. Already they have experienced some issues, such as complications with an air brake, but they anticipate many more — shorter battery lives due to Utah’s cold cycle, shorter tire life and faster degradation of the overall exterior conditions, to name a few. 

For the current public works facilities plan, the total budget is around $5 million. The construction total estimate is $4,739,601.83. For shop and storage, the estimate is $1,974,375. For office, the estimate is $1,689,120 with $132,192 in furnishings. And the yard is estimated to cost $850,411.50. The total estimated project cost is $5,119,349.28.

During the budget discussion for the proposed public works facilities, Mayor Mike Peterson reminded the council of the history of the city’s public works department. 

When the city was incorporated, public works was with the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT). Eventually, direct costs for public works were expected to double under UDOT. At the time, the city leadership did not want to absorb that; so they tried to work with Salt Lake County, hoping they would mitigate some of their concerns. Upon learning that they would not, the city began looking at contracting with outside providers. They decided to contract with Terracare, which was a company from Colorado. “That was a mess,” Peterson said. 

After Terracare, the city council decided to move public works in-house. With that move, the city bought the public works site that is now shared with UDOT for salt storage and other public works staging.