Snow Removal Costs at $330,000 for Town and Still Counting

WINTHROP – For some in town every little snow flake sounds like a kid emptying his piggybank.

Town Manager James McKenna and the town’s CFO Timothy Gordon told the Town Council Tuesday night that so far the town has spent in the neighborhood of $330,000 battling the snow. The town had budgeted $90,000 so it’s now running a deficit of $241,000. With more snow to come it is unknown what the final figure will be. Breaking it down, Gordon said the crew and equipment from Buffalo is $75,000; labor, $79,000; vendors, $23,000; materials and supplies, $89,000; vehicle repairs, $15,000; details, $12,500; fire department, $17,759; police, $19,866.

Gordon said most likely the town’s stabilization fund will pay for the deficit. Fire Chief Paul Flanagan, the town’s MEMA representative said the portion of the snowfall known as the Blizzard of 2015, about $70,000, should be reimbursed by the state because the governor called for a state of emergency.

“We are still sorting out what is reimburseable,” McKenna said.

“Every community is in the same situation,” said Precinct 5 Councillor Russ Sanford.

“No body could plan for this,” said Precinct 3 Councillor Nick DelVento. He added that the conditions of every storm are different. He suggested that the council waits a month, debrief, and then decide what the town is going to do.

In fiscal year 2014 the town had a deficit of $147,160 and a final cost of snow and ice removal of $227,160. In fiscal year 2013 the deficit was $130,000 with a final cost of $200,000.

McKenna said the town he is considering the purchase of a 10-wheel vehicle for snow removal. A truck that size is expected to be able to handle more than 18-inches of snow. The town is waiting to take delivery on a new truck in April which it purchased last year.

“One piece of equipment, the Snow Fighter is 30 years old,” Flanagan said.

Of course equipment problems can hit even the most prepared departments and it is making officials take a look at the age and condition of the equipment it does have. McKenna said the new front end loader the town purchased blew a head gasket and is being nursed along. Complicating its repair are the logistics of getting an appointment with John Deere, the maker of the equipment. The sanders used by the town are also aging.

“We’ll have to take a measure in a few weeks and look at our resources,” McKenna said. “We have an Achilles heel.”

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