Snow removal exceeds budget by $800,000

March 03, 1994|By John Rivera | John Rivera,Sun Staff Writer

The repeated onslaught of snow, sleet and ice this winter has put the county's snow removal budget in the red by more than $800,000.

By 7 a.m. yesterday, the county had spent $1.1 million for sand, salt and overtime pay for the workers who spread it. The Department of Public Works budgeted only $280,000 for snow removal in the fiscal year that began July 1.

The county had no choice but to spend the money and find some way to make up for it later, said Lisa I. Ritter, a Public Works spokeswoman.

"Safety and snow removal are first priorities," she said.

Public Works will look first to its own operating budget to make up the shortfall, but if necessary will dip into County Executive Robert R. Neall's administrative contingency fund.

That fund is not to be confused with Mr. Neall's $12.5 million "rainy day fund." "That's for rainy days," said Louise Hayman, a Neall spokeswoman. "Not for snowy days."

It has been a record year for Public Works, both in the number of storms it has faced and the amount of money it has spent. This is the ninth "snow event" -- departmental lingo for snowstorm -- this year.

"We've had more this year than ever before," said Ms. Ritter.

The county could not have anticipated this brutal winter and budgeted enough money, she said.

"Budgeting $280,000 is standard for us," Ms. Ritter said. Several years ago, the department budgeted $400,000, but it went nearly unused because of mild winters.

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