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March 22, 2013

Towns eligible for snow removal funding

Towns eligible for federal snow removal funds

Winter may be over, but some Southern Hampshire officials are nervous about skyrocketing snow removal costs.

But thanks to some help from the federal government, some local towns are not as concerned about going over budget.

Gov. Maggie Hassan announced this week the state will receive reimbursement for 75 percent of the expenses incurred during the blizzard Feb. 8-10 that dumped two feet of snow. Statewide, the cost of responding to the storm totaled nearly $5 million, she said.

“February’s storm put a significant strain on our local communities, and the ongoing winter weather has pushed snow removal budgets to the limit,” Hassan said in a statement. “The major declaration will allow communities to apply for critical funds that will help provide relief and replenish resources.”

The reimbursement money will be an asset to towns that have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on snow removal in the last few months.

“I’m surprised it qualified,” Derry public works director Mike Fowler said of the blizzard. “We didn’t go into the winter expecting this, but it’s a big help.”

Fowler said the town could recoup about $100,000. Derry has a fiscal year budget that runs from July 1 to June 30.

The town budgeted $548,000 for snow removal, but has spent $590,000, he said.

The excess spending has forced Fowler to juggle other parts of the budget.

“We have a bottom line for highway costs, the transfer station and vehicle maintenance,” Fowler said. “The ability to move some of that money is available to cover overages in other items.”

While Derry operates on a fiscal year budget, Plaistow has a calendar year budget.

“On average in our calendar year, we spend $150,000 on snow removal,” Town Administrator Sean Fitzgerald said. “We’re over that already in just three months.”

Fitzgerald said the town has spent $160,000 since January. The town should receive about $37,500 for the blizzard but it still needs to account for potential snow in November and December.

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