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Some upstate metropolitan counties pay their towns substantially higher rates to plow roads than Erie County's current offer.

Payment per lane mile is almost $1,800 in Monroe County, $1,900 in Onondaga and an average of $2,100 in Niagara.

Erie County has offered to raise its payments by about $200, to $1,300, still $200 less than what town highway deparments say they need.

County Executive Gorski said comparing Erie County's rate with that of other counties is unfair.

With 1,100 county lane miles -- the distance plowed in one lane and back in the other -- Gorski said, Erie County also has the largest number of lane miles of any county in the state.

Gorski also noted the county's payment to towns has increased 17 percent over two years.

In Monroe County, where Rochester is located, Public Works Director Thomas Low said the county and towns have been operating on a lump-sum agreement for the past several years, allowing both parties to predict their costs accurately each year.

"It's worked well for us, and we're looking to fine-tune it even more," he said. The $2.5 million contract works out to $1,781 per lane mile, substantially higher than even the new figure for Erie County.

In Onondaga County, where Syracuse is located, the plowing costs have jumped from $1,800 per lane mile to $1,900, according to Kenneth Osborn, deputy commissioner of the county Department of Transportation.

"But we're still looking for the ideal plan, and we haven't found it yet," he said.

Farther east, Oneida County, where Utica and Rome are located, pays $800 per lane mile, said Michael Zane, deputy commissioner of highways and bridges. But he added that Oneida is one of the few counties that dispenses aid to towns for road maintenance, which he said helps explain the low figure.

And in Rensselaer County, where Troy is located, county trucks plow many town roads and no payments are exchanged, according to Deputy County Engineer Ralph Colongione. The county, instead, supplies the towns with salt and sand for use on its roads.

Even that system will be scrapped next year, Colongione said, when state, county and town crews will be responsible for their own stretches of highway.

"The cost has been astronomical," he said, "so we're just going to have to cut it back."

But John C. Loffredo, Erie County public works commissioner, said the county's agreement with the state to plow state roads works out to about $2,200 per lane mile in heavy winters.

He also said figures from Niagara County indicate an average cost just north of Erie County at about $2,100.

wing than Erie
"Where I differ with the towns is that their vehicles are already driving on the roads," he said. "The only additional cost is to lower the plow and spread the sand, along with some additional time."

Gorski said Erie County needs special equipment to plow state roads, while towns generally can use their own equipment on county roads.

Erie County's town officials were scheduled to meet today on the latest county offer, amid indications the $1,300 figure may not end the dispute.

Elma Supervisor John DiJoseph said that while $1,300 might prove acceptable for 1991, neither the Legislature nor Gorski dealt with 1992. The towns, he said, had hoped for a two-year deal, with the county paying $1,300 per lane mile the first year and $1,500 the second.

News Staff Reporter Barbara O'Brien contributed to this story.

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