Hardy Plumbing
February 02, 2011

Snow Money Snow Far



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Storm after storm dropping record amounts of snow across Long Island mean a lot of early mornings for elected officials. They're up before dawn monitoring weather and road conditions, and making decisions about closures. You hear them reporting in, sounding a little sleepy, on radio and television news programs.

And for some, another component -- cost -- maybe adding to the enforced insomnia.

Last Thursday morning, calling in about the latest storm, County Executive Steve Levy said when he thinks snow, he thinks "cha-ching!" December storms busted Suffolk's snow budget to the tune of almost $2 million, the CE said. According to his spokesman Dan Aug the county spent more than was in its Department of Public Works budget for 2010 by $1.8 million. Last Wednesday night's storm "essentially wiped out" the DPW's budget of $2.7 million for 2011.

Local Legislator jay Schneiderman is chairman of the county legislature's public works committee. He suggested the county may be under budgeting for snow removal, given data gathered by his chief of staff Catherine Stark. She reported that in 2009 the county spent $4.9 million and in 2010 lawmakers estimated the cost at $3.39 million.

So far East Hampton Town is looking good, according to budget officer Len Bernard. Last year the town spent almost $270,000 of its $303,000 budget for snow removal. The total breaks down to $22,774 for overtime, $60,797 for road plow subcontractors, $174,826 for sand and salt, and $9381 for subcontractors who plow town parking lots.

Budget lines for 2011 before last week's storm show the town spent $16,158 on overtime and $4000 on parking lots. Some $148,500 of the budgeted $200,00 for snow and salt has been spent or is encumbered. Bills from subcontractors hired to supplement town snowplow drivers have not been received or processed yet this year.

In all, the town used 88.38 percent of last year's total $303,000 budget. So far this year, with the 2011 budget anticipating $303,000 in snow-related expenses, almost 56 percent was spent in January.

In Southampton Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor reported the December 26 storm cost an estimated $212,500. As of this week, that event, combined with two big storms in January will probably cost in the neighborhood of $800,000. Last year and this year, he said, the town board budgeted some $500,000 for snow removal costs. Predicting, "We'll pierce the budget this year," Gregor noted it's a legal mandate for the town to provide safe roads to its citizenry. "We're going to plow and sand and use whatever time and money it takes to keep the roads safe, and we'll find the money for it," he said.

"We're actually in pretty decent shape," Southampton Village Mayor Mark Epley observed Monday. The village hasn't used any outside contractors this winter and is running just about 10 percent over budget on the salt, sand, and equipment lines. Overtime costs are on target.

In Sag Harbor Village, for the fiscal year running from June of 2009 through May of 2010 the village overspent its $14,000 budget for snow removal supplies by about $2500. This year so far there's still over $9000 in the line, which was increased to $15,000. Last year overtime costs came in at $20,630 out of $45,000 budgeted. This fiscal year, the village has spent just over $16,000 of a $45,000 line for overtime.

In other news of ice and snow, county lawmakers this week will consider a proposed law setting fines for motorists who don't remove accumulated snow and ice from their vehicles. If the law, which has been broached unsuccessfully in the past passes, drivers who fail to remove snow and ice from their cars prior to operation could be fined up to $75. Those whose failure to remove said white stuff causes injury or property damage could face fines no less than $200 or greater than $1000 for non-commercial vehicles. Drivers of commercial vehicles could be fined between $500 and $1500 for the infraction.

A public hearing on the measure was scheduled for yesterday afternoon during the legislature's general meeting in Hauppauge.

kmerrill@indyeastend.com

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