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Towns plow through budgets Thursday, December 11, 2003
Carolyn Kessel / News Staff Writer Metrowest Daily News
Every flake that fell in MetroWest last weekend cost taxpayers, and in some communities the snowstorm sucked up the majority of their snow removal budgets.

Twenty-three inches of snow piled up in Natick, and the town spent $127,000 of its $150,000 snow removal budget cleaning it up, according to Department of Public Works Director Charles Sisitsky.

The town had already spent $45,000 on salt and for salting and sanding roads before the storm arrived.  To cover this snowstorm and the near future, selectmen had to issue a $200,000 overdraft to the DPW.

Marlborough was hit with about half the snow and spent about $120,000 plowing 28 miles of sidewalks and 245 lane miles of road.

"I hope that's not an indication of the winter that's to come," said Sandra Waterman, assistant DPW commissioner in Marlborough.

You cannot judge how much it will cost to clear snow just on the inch count, she said.  In this case, the storm cost more because its length forced plow drivers to be on duty the entire weekend.  The department could not have predicted the storm's slow pace, she said, but the vigilance allowed crews to clear the streets before the snow froze and stuck to the pavement.

The city budgets $500,000 annually for snow and ice removal, but often exceeds that and transfers more money into the account, Waterman said.

Framingham typically has the highest snow and ice removal budget, usually more than $700,000.  Officials were meeting late yesterday to try and come up with a tally for the weekend storm.  Before the meeting, Town Manager George King said he hoped it would only be about $150,000.

Holliston Town Administrator Paul LeBeau said his community plowed through most of its $122,000 snow and ice removal budget during the recent storm, spending about $100,000.  Of that figure, between $20,000 and $30,000 was paid for supplies.

"The storm literally was 36 hours of overtime," said LeBeau.

Hopkinton spent about $80,000 of its $200,000 budget, said DPW Director J.T. Goucher.  Most of the expense was labor, but the town also had to fix a major piece of equipment, Goucher said.

"We're still mopping up here and there."

Hudson still does not know how much it spent shoveling out about a foot of snow, said DPW Director Tony Marques.

Last year snow removal cost more than twice what the town had budgeted.  Bills for snow removal were $520,393 last year, as compared with the $226,500 budgeted.

Northborough spent the least of any town surveyed, between $20,000 and $25,000, said Kara Buzanoski, assistant public works director.  Its budget is $120,000.  Although officials hope last weekend's storm is the worst of it, Buzanoski said crews will take on with whatever Mother Nature deals.

"It is New England."

Cost of cleanupLast weekend's snowstorm cost local towns a bundle.  Many spent nearly all their yearly budgeted amount just on this storm.  Following is a list of towns and how much each one spent cleaning up after the storm.

Natick - $127,000

Marlborough - $120,000

Holliston - $100,000

Hopkinton - $80,000

Northborough - $25,000

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