Latest Storm Further Buries State Snow Removal Budget

By Sarah Birnbaum

Feb. 3, 2011

The white stuff keeps coming down, and officials across the Bay State are trying to figure out how to pay for it. (nd-n?/Flickr)

BOSTON — With more than two months of winter left to go, Massachusetts has already blown through its $58 billion snow removal budget. The latest bout of winter weather has the commonwealth scrambling to come up with new cleanup funds. 

A week ago, Governor Deval Patrick asked lawmakers to approve $25 million more for snow and ice removal.  The request was included in a midyear budget bill that’s still pending before the Legislature.

No matter what, Luisa Paiewonsky of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation vows that the state highways will still be cleared. “We’re going to keep plowing and spreading materials regardless, but we do need additional funds to pay the bills for it,” Paiewonsky said.

The final cost of yesterday’s snow storm hasn’t been calculated yet, but Paiwonsky says she’s confident it will run into the millions.

For now, Patrick says the money will come from the state’s rainy fund, and from better-than-expected tax collections.

“I’m happy to say revenues continue to perform at or above benchmark, so that’s helpful.  But it’s not like we’re flush — I don’t want you getting the wrong impression  — but these are expenses that have to be met,” Patrick said.

State officials are also asking the federal government for help. They applied for Federal Emergency Management Funds after both the post-Christmas blizzard and the January 12th Nor’easter. But there’s no word yet on whether the state will qualify for reimbursement.

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