Town Faces $95K Deficit for Snow, Ice Removal So Far
Selectmen declare snow and ice emergency to allow town to continue spending to clear snow. Additional money will come out of the fiscal year 2012 budget.
This winter has not been kind to the backs of local residents who have spent hours shoveling, and it will not be kind to the town coffers, either.
The Board of Selectmen voted unanimously Monday night to declare a snow and ice emergency, a move that will allow the town to continue spending for snow removal after surpassing the budgeted amount only a month into the winter season.
The town has spent $395,403 in snow and ice removal to date and now has a deficit of $95,403, Town Administrator Greg Balukonis said. The town initially budgeted $125,000 for snow and ice removal and had $175,000 in reserve.
Any additional expenditure for snow and ice removal would be taken off the top of the fiscal year 2012 budget, said Board of Selectmen Chairman Robert Mauceri.
Like most municipalities in New England, the town typically only budgets for one or two major snowstorms each year because forecasting for an entire season is not possible, Public Works Director Richard Carnevale told North Reading Patch in December. The town typically handles those cost overruns at the spring Town Meeting, he said.
The state used to provide supplemental funding to cover significant snow and ice removal deficits, but Balukonis told selectmen that he does not foresee that happening this year.
“It’s our problem to solve,” Balukonis said.
The town has had to deal with significant deficits the past couple winters. North Reading ran a deficit of $450,000 in fiscal year 2010, and $775,000 in 2009, Balukonis said.
“It was extremely painful,” he said.
The town could be headed down that path again, the way this winter has gone so far, Mauceri said.
To date, 57.5 inches of snow have fallen in North Reading, Balukonis said, and the forecast for today and Thursday calls for even more of the white stuff.
Selectman Stephen O’Leary chose to take an optimist’s approach to the situation.
“We have a deficit in neither of these,” O’Leary said. “We have plenty of snow, and plenty of ice.”