Budgets of North Berkshire towns stretched by snow removal costs
NORTH ADAMS -- With a little more than a month left in winter, Northern Berkshire municipalities are hoping the weather is fair to their snow and ice removal budgets.
While North Adams still is under its annual budget number, both Williamstown and Clarksburg have already spent more than was planned.
Mayor Richard J. Alcombright said $175,000 was budgeted for the snow and ice removal, as well as maintenance to related machinery.
"Right now we're about 60 percent expended," he said.
The biggest problem has been finding sand to treat the city's 103 miles of roads, he said, not money.
"A lot of the sand has been heading toward the eastern part of the state, or down in the southern states where they have seen a lot of icing," he said. "The MassHighway District One office in Lenox has been extremely cooperative. They loaned us about 100 tons [of sand] for the storm before this and we did replace some, but they're also low now."
Alcombright reported the overtime budget account was also tracking pretty well, and was about 60 percent expended.
"Unless February continues like this, I think we will be in the clear," he said. "Hopefully the storms don't deplete us any more."
Meanwhile, Williamstown Town Manager Peter Fohlin reported that the town has spent roughly $200,000. The budgeted amount was $163,000.
The winter of 2010-2011 was one of the most expensive the town had seen. The town spent $380,569 to plow and sand the town's roads, $217,261 over budget.
Clarksburg Town Administrator Thomas Webb said the town also had exceeded its budgeted amount, but did not have figures available.
"It's the only thing we can run a deficit on," he said.
Alcombright said the deficit at the end of last winter was roughly $80,000, which was carried into the current fiscal year's budget.
"Last year wasn't a big winter for snow, but we had a lot of little storms," he said. "It's all these small, 1- or 2-inch storms that are really tough."
The hills of the Steeple City pose a challenge during the winter months, he said. Snowplow drivers are asked to sand steep hills, including the main routes to the hospital.
"If you go 12 feet off of Main Street, you're on a hill," he said. "We're very sensitive to that, and hopefully we get a supply to last us through next week."
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