Last week's winter storm has eaten up a chunk of Needham’s snow and ice removal budget, but is unclear just how much at this point.
Needham’s budget for snow and ice removal is $400,000 annually. Up until Dec. 26, there have been six events ranging from black ice requiring salt and and with no hired contractors needed, to full plowing events including hired contractors. The total snowfall up to this date is 19 inches and the projected total expense is about $260,000.
“We do not have a projection of costs for this storm,” said said Richard P. Merson, director of Needham Department of Public Works.
Actual costs to date, prior to the Jan. 2 snow storm dubbed Hercules by the Weather Channel, are not yet available as not all of the invoices have been received and processed. Merson explained that in order to provide the Town Manager a running estimate of likely costs, the Department of Public Works staff gathers data from a variety of sources in quick fashion and make a projection of costs for each weather event. These are incorporated into the Winter Storm Summary Report.“Due to the uncertainty of a season's actual snowfall amount it is impossible to project an actual cost when budgets are prepared many months earlier,” Merson said. “Using the Winter Storm Summary Reports as a gauge when the projected cumulative expenses begin approaching the budget limit the Town Manager will seek to have the limit increased through a request of the Finance Committee's Reserve Fund. With the likely expense from this most recent storm (Hercules) such a request will be required very soon.”
The Highway Department is responsible for 260 lane miles of roadway, 160 miles of sidewalk and 246 miles of curbing and parking lots.