City's snow-removal funds drying up

January 24, 2004|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

The money set aside by the City of Hagerstown for this year's snow-removal efforts is effectively gone, even as the area braces for another snowstorm this weekend.

"Basically, our (snow) budget's shot," City Public Works Manager Eric Deike said Friday.

Deike and City Assistant Finance Director Ray Foltz said snow removal will continue as needed, but the money will have to come from other places in the city's budget.

Weather forecasters predicted an inch of snow accumulation for today. While the weather is expected to clear in the afternoon, more snow and freezing rain is predicted for Sunday, according to the National Weather Service.


The city had allocated $258,600 for snow removal this year. But because storms this year have hit mainly on weekends, the cleaning process has been more costly because workers receive overtime pay for snow-clearing on Saturdays and Sundays, Deike said.

As of this past Tuesday, the city had spent $246,655 in snow and ice clearing, including plowing snow and salting roads. Last weekend alone, the city used 475 tons of salt on the roads.

That left $11,945 in the budget. But the latest order of salt - 450 tons, which is on hand for this weekend's forecast - will cost the city another $18,000, overrunning the budget by $6,055, Deike said.

Foltz said one problem was the city budgeted less money this year than last year, when officials allowed for $309,800 in snow removal. In reality, the city spent $592,683.

"We thought we'd be safe" this year, Foltz said. He said the city had gambled on a lighter year in snowfall after last year's heavy snowfalls. The year before, the city spent only $134,400 on snow removal.

Foltz said the city will be looking at finding unused money from the remainder of this year's budget. The items likely to go on the chopping block would be the filling of open city positions and building projects that have not yet begun.

Deike said despite the money problems, travelers on city roads should not notice a difference.

"Our trucks are ready to go, our men are on notice," Deike said. "We also have plenty of salt in our bins. We've got everything where we need to be."

Deike said the only problem he foresaw travel-wise was dropping temperatures.

"If we're below 20 (degrees), that makes the storm even harder to contend with," Deike said.

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