Gloucester, Mass. Facing Snow Removal Budget Crunch - NECN

Gloucester, Mass. Facing Snow Removal Budget Crunch



    Gloucester, Mass. facing budget crunch for snow clean-up

    Community expects to go through 900 tons - or $40K - worth of road salt during Wednesday's snowstorm (Published Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014)

    (NECN: Josh Brogadir, Gloucester, Mass.) - Just six weeks into winter, and some communities in Massachusetts have already spent their snow budget.

    With a snowstorm arriving Wednesday, and possibly another storm hitting this weekend, that's a problem.

    In Gloucester, Mass., officials expect a 900 ton salt pile to disappear thanks to Wednesday's storm, which is another $40,000.

    However, Mayor Carolyn Kirk is not panicked about the budget.

    All the snow that's been lifted off the streets of Gloucester has been dropped at Stage Fort Park, a moderate sized hill in a city hoping its snow budget shortfall doesn't turn into a mountain sized deficit.

    "We're over budget by about $300,000. And that doesn't include the two storms that are coming up. It's a concern every year. Typically we will look at our spending across all line items and I may institute a spending freeze," said Mayor Carolyn Kirk.

    That freeze would mean special projects slated for April might not get budgeted until the next fiscal year, say August.

    "The priority is to keep the streets safe for drivers and pedestrians so I would say, yeah, I'm cool with it," said Matt Dority of Gloucester.

    Meanwhile, for this storm, the good news is it won't be frigid and gusty, the kind of nor'easter the Man at the Wheel knows all too well, as does the man at this wheel, Peter Ciriello.

    "I don't have to get out early, so I plan my day around the storm," Ciriello said.

    The bad news is that wet, heavy snow will take its toll on the 26 square miles of roads and the crews tasked with clearing them.

    "It'll be a lot more difficult than the last two storms we've had. It's tough to move it around. The lighter stuff was good, we were able to push it around with no trouble, we were able to keep up with it. The heavy stuff, you know if you get behind a little bit, it just makes it all the worse," said Mark Cole, Assistant Director of Gloucester DPW.

    Snow removal has gone over budget three of the last four years.

    It's quiet here now but expect about 100 public works employees and private contractors through the night, with the first ones in about 3 a.m.