February storms cost Baltimore about $36 million

Annual snow removal budget about quarter that figure

payments to contractors top $21 million

May 12, 2010|By Liz F. Kay, The Baltimore Sun

Baltimore paid contractors and other businesses more than $21 million for emergency snow removal and other services during the record storms that hit the Baltimore area in February.

Those invoices represent more than half of the approximately $36 million Baltimore spent on overtime and emergency response during the storms. The city's annual snow budget is about a quarter of that amount, according to a city spokesman.

"This was the worst two-day storm in our history," Mayor Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake said after a Wednesday meeting of the Board of Estimates. "It required us to use outside resources."

Baltimore has applied to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for reimbursement of about 75 percent of the expenses, but the process can be lengthy, city spokesman Ian Brennan said.

During the snowstorms, city officials put out a call for companies with construction equipment that could assist with snow removal on smaller streets. Five companies stand to receive more than $1 million, including Alabama-based DRC Emergency Services LLC, which could receive the largest payment, a little less than $2.7 million.

The private contractors brought with them more than 600 pieces of equipment, including a dump truck and 50 backhoes. Their payments matched rates paid by the State Highway Administration and other debris- removal operations, according to Ryan O'Doherty, the mayor's spokesman.

Other payments include more than $172,000 to the Classic Catering People, nearly $45,000 to Class Act Café and Catering, and $15,000 to Sodexo. The city provided meals to staff at its emergency management center, as well as at yards where plow drivers worked 12-hour shifts, Brennan said.

City officials appealed a rejection of aid requested after a December storm that dropped more than 2 feet of snow on the area. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and FEMA have since determined that was a record weather event, and Baltimore may now apply for $2.25 million in reimbursement, the mayor's office said Wednesday.

liz.kay@baltsun.com

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