Towns In The Red After Too Much White

By Sarah Birnbaum

Jan. 27, 2011


BOSTON — It’s not even midway into the winter season, but communities around the region are already maxing out their snow budgets.

Worcester ran through all its snow and ice money. Then it allocated another $300,000 dollars, and spent that too.

Pittsfield wiped out the $500,000 it set aside for this winter.  Before Wednesday night's storm, it was already about $150,000 in the hole  — now, that number will probably be higher. 

Cost overruns aren’t unusual.  Municipalities tend to low-ball the cost of snow removal because it’s the only budget item that’s allowed to run on a deficit.  Cities and towns can usually make up for it later in the year with spending freezes in other departments, or by dipping into other accounts.

But that might not be an option this year because localities are already grappling with lean budgets. And Mother Nature has been particularly unrelenting: This is the third Nor’easter since Christmas, and there are two months of winter left to go.

Meanwhile, Gov. Deval Patrick is asking the Legislature for another $25 million dollars to keep the state’s roadways clear. Lawmakers will have plenty of time to mull over the request — every other event on Beacon Hill has been canceled due to snow.

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