EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

December 24, 2012

City dumps costly plow coverage

(Continued)

In recent winters, Methuen's expenses for snow and ice removal have totaled between $700,000 and $1.6 million per year.

But the city spent just $449,000 last winter. Included in that expense was $168,822 in overtime. Of that amount, $65,293 went to cover overtime paid on Saturdays and Sundays.

DiFiore's weather records document 24 inches of snowfall in the city last winter. Nearly a third of that total (seven inches) fell in late October, before the 24-hour DPW coverage began. The average annual snowfall in the Boston area is about 42 inches.

The laborers' contract states it is the responsibility of the public works director to establish the 24-hour shifts each year, "from the first full week in December through the second full week of March in any year."

In May, DiFiore was reluctant to change the 24-hour schedule. "Given the choice, I'd do it again," he said. At the time, DiFiore said the shifts were in place to ensure safety on city roadways.

"Safety has to be the number one concern for the city," Difiore said last week. "But we also need to watch how were expending the funds."

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