EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

February 24, 2014

Most towns $1M over snow budgets


“That’s the only account you can overspend because of the safety recognition,” said Methuen DPW Director Raymond DiFiore.

A large deficit also can be reduced at the end of a fiscal year by taking any money remaining in other departments’ budgets and applying it to the snow and ice deficit.

Several directors, though, cautioned against increasing their snow and ice budgets.

Isensee said that appropriating more each year would only guarantee that money would be spent, no matter the weather. “If you budget $500,000, then you have to do that every year after that. Once you put it in there you can’t reduce it, realistically,” he said.

Bruce Thibodeau, director of public works in North Andover, agreed. “There’s all kinds of reasons you don’t, because you don’t want to tie up all your money,” he said.

Salt deliveries are backed up as well, with local communities reporting that they are waiting for hundreds of tons worth of deliveries.

DiFiore said Methuen borrowed from the state shed in Tewksbury. The city is waiting for delivery of between 35 and 40 trailer loads.

A trailer load is 30 tons, and most local communities pay $44 per ton — or $1,320 per load — through a consortium of cities and towns that buy salt together. Those communities include Andover, Lawrence, Methuen and North Andover locally, along with Burlington, Melrose, North Reading, Reading, Stoneham, Wakefield, Wilmington, Winchester and Woburn.

Lawrence is waiting on 30 trailer loads, or 900 tons, while Andover is waiting on 50 loads, or about 1,500 tons.

“It’s ugly,” Isensee said. “Salt management is one of the biggest issues this year.”

Thibodeau in North Andover said his department is not down too much, but the supply has been a concern. “It’s never been a crisis, but it’s been tight,” he said.

Deliveries were disrupted at the end of December when a brutal ice storm coated Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, knocked out power and diverted salt deliveries to Northern New England.

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