Jones: State Snow, Ice Aid a Complex Issue
The House minority leader touched upon a major financial drain for cities and towns during a forum at North Reading Town Hall last week.
With an unrelenting winter taking a toll on local snow and ice removal budgets, many are asking whether the state will be able to provide financial assistance.
But putting together an aid package would be a challenge because municipalities across the state have different snow- and ice-management plans, state Rep. Bradley H. Jones Jr. said Friday at a forum sponsored by North Reading United for Education and Stand for Children at Town Hall.
“We are going to face a daunting fiscal challenge, and now we have snow and ice (budget deficits),” said Jones, R-North Reading.
Making an equitable distribution of aid to cities and towns would be complex, Jones said. He questioned whether the fairest solution would be to make a distribution through a Chapter 90-style formula.
Chapter 90 is the state program that reimburses municipalities for roadway construction and improvement costs, according to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.
Jones suggested that any such aid provided to towns not spent on snow and ice removal would need to be put toward the town’s road program.
“My guess is that there will be a lot of potholes to fill,” Jones said.
North Reading already has spent its entire snow and ice removal budget for this season. Town Administrator Greg Balukonis told the Board of Selectmen on Monday night that the town now faces a deficit of $275,000 this season, with the total costs for snow removal now around $575,000.
Selectmen recently voted to declare a snow and ice emergency, allowing the town to continue spending for snow removal, with additional funds coming from the 2012 budget.
The state has overspent its $59 million snow removal budget by $22 million, Secretary of Transportation Jeffrey Mullan told The Boston Globe on Monday. Gov. Deval Patrick has asked lawmakers to approve an additional $25 million for snow removal, but Mullan told the Globe that more likely will be needed.