BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Winter is right around the corner, but lucky for Western New York, it looks like we’ll have no problem clearing the roads when the snow does start falling, but you may have to be patient.
“We would get all the streets plowed,” highway superintendent, Patrick Lucey said. “It just may take a little bit longer.”
Amherst highway superintendent, Patrick Lucey, said the town has exactly enough staff to complete their 350-mile route, ideally, they’d have six or seven more people.
“I have those 40 on staff, but I really have no extras,” Lucey said.
The town of Amherst isn’t alone. President of Armstrong Landscaping and Snowplowing in Grand Island, Matt Armstrong, said they had to cut back on snowplow operators this year.
“We usually run six or seven trucks,” Armstrong said. “This year we’re only going to be running three to four”
And Lucey said even if someone got hired at the town Amherst, it would take a while before they could start working.
“It takes about a year to train somebody to drive the vehicles,” Lucey said.
Armstrong said they look for at least one year of experience, paying $16 to $20 per hour to start and $24 or more per hour once you have more years under your belt.
“Our quality stays high for the people we can manage,” Armstrong said. “But in the same sense, we’re losing business.”
Owner of Busy Beaver Lawn and Garden in Cheektowaga, Elizabeth Bonadonna said they have enough snowplow operators this year. She said they invested more into hiring, paying $15 or $16 per hour to start, and $30 per hour for more experienced operators.
“It’s tough because you want the experience, but you want to keep people on,” Bonadonna said.
But Bonadonna said finding people to shovel sidewalks is where they have trouble; she said they get paid $15 or $16 an hour.
“Sometimes money isn’t motivating,” Bonadonna said. “People don’t want to get up at 2 in the morning to shovel heavy wet snow.”
Bonadonna said once the first snow comes around, staffing starts looking better.
“When it’s measurable snow, then all of a sudden we’ll see an increase of people applying,” Bonadonna said.
The Erie County Department of Public Works, say it’s ready for the first snowfall of the season, they do have enough operators and are in the process of hiring a few more.