The town's budget for snow cleanup is, well, about half-way gone. Will Mother Nature be an angel or a monster for the rest of the winter?
“There are still at least two more months to go this winter and we are at about half or over half of our snow budget,” said First Selectman William “Willie” Fritz.
Peter Neff, director of the Public Works Department (DPW) confirmed that the budget for overtime manpower is $50,000 a year.
“At the end of today’s storm, we will have used 60 percent plus of that budget,” said Neff.
When the DPW plows snow during its normal working hours the labor cost for the total 12 man crew is approximately $288 per hour. When the crew is called in to plow outside of its normal working hours (overtime), the labor cost for the same 12 person crew runs $432 an hour, noted Neff.
On Sundays and holidays (double overtime) the cost for the same 12 person crew runs $576 per hour.
"This does not include the cost of sand, salt, fuel and maintenance on the trucks," said Neff. "Plowing snow is a very expensive operation and the amount of snow we have had so far this winter has strained our snow removal budgets."
One of the problems facing many municipalities this year was the first storm hit the day after Christmas – a Sunday.
His annual budget for sand and salt is $35,000.
“We will have used 50 percent of the sand and salt budget by the end of this storm,” added Neff, whose department uses a combination of rock salt and sand and not the liquid calcium chloride/salt brine/sugar corrosion inhibitor combination that the state uses.
Additional costs add up, too. Neff said he needed to purchase two orders (at $2,000 each) of cutting edges for the plows.
“They are necessary so you don’t wear your plows out,” he said.
The numbers are not horrible, said Fritz, but not great. If the area is not overburdened with storm after storm for February and March, the DPW snow removal budget may stay on track.
Last year, the DPW realized a surplus of $15,000 in the overtime budget.
The DPW staff includes Neff, an administrative assistant and 12 crewmembers. In addition to snowplowing and sanding all town roads, they plow the center of town, all town parking lots, all municipal building lots (town hall, park & recreation, etc.), and sidewalks. They do not plow the school parking lots.
“Most of the plowing is completed at night so business can resume the next day,” said Neff.