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Marshalltown taxpayers deserve better than just salt on the streets this winter

November 29, 2008

Marshalltown - and the entire Midwest, for that matter - will soon enter another winter season and once again, snow removal will be a main concern for local residents.

We've already lived through several difficult winters with more snow than you could shake a stick at. We've dealt with slow snow removal, inadequate sanding of intersections and more than a few mailboxes whacked by city snowplows.

But this year, the City of Marshalltown has decided to add another headache to the mix: the elimination of sand from the sand-salt mix the city uses to keep the streets safer during the winter months.

The lack of sand on the streets this winter is more than cause for concern, it's simply a bad idea.

Sure, salt will help melt the snow and ice off the streets, but while we wait for that to happen, the sand provides much needed traction at intersections, on hills and at other slick spots.

One reason for the change is cost. The city hopes to save money by using only salt - and the occasional chemical treatment in advance of a snowfall.

Saving money is certainly a noble cause. Yet the money saved is part of a service provided by our tax dollars. When the city saves that money this winter, will taxpayers see any of it back? Don't bank on it.

We've been told many major metropolitan areas rely solely on salt. While being compared to a major metropolitan area is a bit flattering, it isn't reality.

Reality is that sand isn't that outrageously priced and our City certainly isn't in dire enough straits to be cutting sand. If it is, there are plenty of other areas of city government we can start with.

Reality is that sand helps prevent needless accidents and keeps the streets safer. Safer streets also mean fewer police and ambulance calls - and fewer chances for those people to have a fender bender as well.

And the harsh reality is that many residents feel Marshalltown's snow removal efforts already seem to deteriorate with each passing winter. The last thing we need is worse snow removal than we've been having.

We would encourage the Marshalltown City Council to take a closer look at the proposed change from a salt and sand mix to just salt.

Marshalltown taxpayers pay for quality services, we shouldn't be receiving anything less.



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