Reading's Plowing Costs Already $67k Over Budget
"It's been a long winter already."
This winter has already taken a toll on Reading’s finances.
The Department of Public Works’ plowing and ice management budget was $67,000 in the red on Tuesday—before the snow started falling on Wednesday.
“It hasn’t been the quantity, it’s been the quality,” said Department of Public Works director Jeff Zager—but he added that the quantity hasn’t helped.
Big storms, he said, can take as much as a week to clean up. After the initial plowing, his department has to deal with clearing sidewalks, cutting down the snow banks at intersections and repairing broken equipment, and when big storms fall about a week apart, it makes it hard for his men to catch up.
In Reading’s downtown area, the department sometimes has to load the snow into trucks and cart it away because there’s no safe place to leave it. That alone, he said, can cost $8-10,000 per storm.
Smaller storms also tax the town's resources, Zager said, as he needs to send out crews to sand and salt the roads to maintain safe driving conditions.
“It seems like every other day you get a dusting or an inch or a couple of inches,” he said. “It’ been a long winter already."
Zager said he considers the plowing season over around the first of April. Until then, he and his men will continue to make public safety their number-one priority.
And, in these tough fiscal times, the cost of that safety will keep adding up.
“Think Spring,” Zager said.
The Cost of Snow
|Category||Cost this winter*|
|Plowing and Hauling||$236,398.75|
*According to a printout from the town dated 10:14 a.m. Jan. 25