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Snow busts some budgets in Tri-State area

February 16, 2000|By JULIE E. GREENE

The condition of snow removal budgets for Tri-State governments is a mixed bag, much like the area's weather this winter.

Most local governments are under budget, but a few are close to exceeding theirs and the City of Hagerstown has a $77,006 deficit.

The Hagerstown Department of Public Works will dip into the city's $131,042 general fund contingency budget to make up for the deficit, city officials said. The contingency fund is used mostly for snow removal and unexpected retirement payments.

The city not only had crews working overtime during snowstorms, but at least once had to send crews out after a significant snowfall, said Public Works Director Doug Stull.

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Of the $253,693 spent so far this fiscal year on snow removal, $21,409 was for equipment repairs, Stull said.

The Washington County Highway Department didn't have specific numbers available, but Director Ted Wolford said the department may be a little over its budget.

The department has cash reserves and should another major snowstorm hit, Wolford said he would cut back or hold off on spring activities such as patching roads.

Eighteen inches of snow fell on Hagerstown in a one-week period followed by another eight inches on Jan. 30, according to local weather observer Greg Keefer.

The National Weather Service's long-term forecast for the Tri-State area was calling for the possibility of snow and freezing rain early Friday.

The forecast was uncertain since the low pressure system was still developing over Arizona on Wednesday, said Weather Service meteorologist Andy Woodcock.

Frederick County, Md., Highway Operations Division Chief Bill Routzahn said he will ask the Frederick County Commissioners for another $93,000 today in case more severe weather hits the area.

The department's snow removal budget has a $46,000 deficit, but dipping into a $75,000 contingency fund covered that, Routzahn said.

The department overspent its $30,000 contracting budget by $50,000.

Chambersburg, Pa., has spent $42,000 of its $128,000 snow removal budget, said Director of Public Works Bob Wagner. Unlike most local governments, Chambersburg's fiscal year is the same as the calendar year so the $86,000 remaining must last until Dec. 31.

So far, this winter's storms have hit at opportune times, with borough crews working as much regular time as overtime, Wagner said.

The City of Frederick, Md., appears to be in good shape, having spent $167,500 of its $221,000 budget, said Chief Finance Officer John Leisenring.

The West Virginia Division of Highways, which clears roads for the counties, is under budget in the Eastern Panhandle, said District 5 Assistant Administrator Kit Groves.

The City of Martinsburg, W.Va., is under budget, although City Manager Mark Baldwin couldn't provide specific numbers because the city doesn't have a line item for snow removal.

Charles Town, W.Va., will probably spend its budgeted $16,000, but City Manager Jane Arnett said she doesn't expect to exceed that amount.

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