Nemo blows through town’s snow and ice budget

Greenfield will have to deficit spend for additional winter storm cleanup this year

GREENFIELD — One of the last things Public Works Director Sandra Shields has done before she retires is to warn the town that it will end up spending more than it budgeted for snow and ice this year.

Shields told the Town Council on Wednesday that Winter Storm Nemo will end up depleting the $200,000 the town had in its snow and ice fund. The town has budgeted that amount for at least the past three years.

According to state law, snow and ice is the only account in which a town can deficit spend, said Shields.

“We’re very close to spending it all,” said Shields earlier on Wednesday. “We’re up to $173,000 and I haven’t added in fuel or snow removal yet.”

She said fuel will be about $15,000 and snow removal about $12,000 to $14,000. She said there are probably other expenses that will have to be added in before the town leaves Nemo behind.

“We weren’t doing too bad until the big storm,” she said. “The timing was very bad. All of the work we had to do was overtime.”

Shields said expenses kept piling up because it was also a long storm, so “lots of material (sand and salt)” had to be used, and there were vehicle breakdowns.

She said an ice storm a couple of weeks before Nemo also added to the heavy expenses because roads need regular sanding and salting.

Shields said this year’s expenses are actually more typical for a New England winter.

She said last year the town only spent $156,000 on snow and ice, but that was because there weren’t many storms. The ones Greenfield saw were lighter, and they were ideal from a snow clearing point of view.

“They’d start at 4 in the morning, so we didn’t have to start plowing until 7 a.m., and we’d be able to stop plowing and treating roads by 3 p.m.,” she said. “If I remember right, they all happened during the week, so there was no overtime.”

Shields said she doesn’t have all of the figures for snow and ice yet, but said public works has already used 1,700 tons of salt, 1,600 tons of sand, and 3,000 gallons of the mixture the town uses to pretreat roads.

“Again, that’s really not bad for a typical winter here,” she said.

Shields will retire on March 1, and Arthur Baker of Branford, Conn., will take over at that point.

“I hope things go well for him,” she said. “We still could get some pretty serious storms. In March, the snow can be pretty wet and heavy.”

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