Storms putting a strain on local snow removal budgets

Lucy Yang reports from Yonkers.
February 4, 2014 3:35:51 PM PST
Many area towns and cities are finding that cleaning up after the recent snowstorms can be costly business.

Plowing and salting of roads, and overtime for workers are all putting a strain on funding set aside for dealing with snow.

In Yonkers, the snow removal budget is $800,000 for overtime and $800,000 for salt.

Winter is far from over and the budget is almost tapped out.

"It is tough, we're right there just about getting ready to go over budget," said Yonkers DPW Commissioner Thomas Meier.

On Long Island all the white stuff has already pushed Babylon's budget into the red.

"We're already $66,000 over the budget this year because of the storms. We do have surplus available in our budget," said Babylon town supervisor Rich Schaffer.

Worse yet they're running out of ammunition.

"We are going out this afternoon in the open market to buy salt, probably at a higher price because most municipalties on Long Island are experiencing great difficulty in getting salt," said Schaffer.

Snow cleanup is costly. If the storm falls overnight or on the weekend, that's time and a half for the crews. If it comes in a holiday, it's double time.

All the snow has led to a shortage of salt nationwide for spreading on the icy roads, forcing communities to ration supplies.

Cities have already gone through most of their salt well ahead of the time they traditionally really need it, when the coldest part of the winter gives way to temperatures just warm enough to turn snow into freezing rain and sleet.

Demand is so high that salt prices are skyrocketing. In some places, crews are stretching their supplies by mixing it with sand.