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An Auburn snow plow clears the road in January. The Cayuga County Legislature's Public Works Committee on Tuesday approved a contract for snow removal with the county's town highway departments.

AUBURN — A Cayuga County Legislature committee Tuesday voted to approve a new contract that pays town highway departments to clear snow and ice off certain county-owned roads.

The Legislature's Public Works committee authorized a three-year contract with the towns that provides for a 4.5% increase in reimbursement for each of the contract's years, or approximately $68,000 per year.

The previous three-year contract expired this June, and in its last year was valued at approximately $1.5 million. The 4.5% increase will be applied to that total amount.

Each town maintains a different amount of county roads, and are also reimbursed at different rates on a per mile basis based on snowfall. Together, the towns take care of plowing for a combined 335 miles of road.

The increase from the new contract, if ultimately approved by the full Legislature and the town highway departments, would be applied flatly at a rate of an additional $201.56 per mile.

Cayuga County Attorney Christopher Palermo said the contract was written that way in order to bring the towns closer to equity after previous percentage-based increases had led to a disparity between them.

The approval came after several town highway superintendents attended September's meeting of the Legislature and told legislators the expired contracts rates were insufficient and time was running out before the first snow fall.

Committee Chair Joseph Bennett, R-Auburn, voted in favor of the contract, but said he hoped the Legislature would reconsider the agreement the next time it comes up for renewal.

Bennett said the county should consider if it would be cheaper to hire additional staff at the county Highway Division instead of contracting with the towns, especially if the towns would continue to threaten to stop plowing.

Bennett was referring to the September meeting when Venice Highway Superintendent and Cayuga County Town Superintendents Association President Steve Fedrizzi said the towns would no longer plow county roads if no contract deal was reached by Jan. 1.

The full Legislature as well as the town highway departments must both accept the contract now that the committee has forwarded it for approval.

In other news

• The committee also voted to accept $201,367.33 additional dollars from the state Department of Transportation for its snow removal agreement.

The DOT was originally going to reimburse the county $517,194.40 for plowing state roads in the 2018-2019, but added the additional amount based on the severity of snowfall during that time.

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Staff writer Ryan Franklin can be reached at (315) 282-2252 or ryan.franklin@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @RyanNYFranklin.