The Melrose Department of Public Works's snow budget of $500,000 has already been spent this winter, according to Director John Scenna.
When the blizzard dumped a few feet of snow on the city in February, it was a costly storm to tackle, and the DPW is running a snow budget deficit of about $100,000 to $120,000 as a result, according to Scenna.
"We've just gone into deficit on our $500,000 snow budget," Scenna said. "The blizzard definitely put us over the $500,000 mark for the year. We probably had $170,000 to $180,000 in expenditures going into the blizzard. The blizzard cost us around $315,000.
While the DPW has had to spend more than its budget $500,000 this winter, the department had a surplus last year, according to Scenna. The amount of the surplus was not immediately available.
In a March 2012 chat with Melrose Patch, Mayor Rob Dolan said, "We budgeted $450,000 for snow; we have spent approximately $200,000. We have some overages in gas and utilities, and since it is one-time money, because we will need it next year, it will be used for any sort of deficit or capital cost that may be identified in the next several months."
Scenna recalled some of the equipment-related problems his department encountered during the blizzard.
"We had a transmission issue with one of our sidewalk plows," said the director. "We lost a conveyor belt on one of our large sanders, and everything else was kind of minor in the sense of hydraulic leaks, a lot of windshield motors and wipers because when it got to the point that visibility was so bad that everything started to freeze up."
Scenna added that the department went through many cutting edges and bolts on the plows.
Melrose was able to do all necessary repairs to equipment in-house instead of being sent out to contractors, according to Scenna.
Last weekend's storm that left several more inches of snow on the ground cost Melrose about $50,000 to $55,000, according to Scenna.
"Weekend storms are oviously 100 percent overtime," Scenna explained. "Our contractor expenses are fixed no matter when (a storm) is during the week."
The department is in "good shape" heading into Saturday night's predicted snowstorm, which could leave the city with a potentially several more inches of snow, according to Scenna.
"We've done a lot during the post-blizzard and after last weekend's storm in our school lots," Scenna said. "We have gotten some snow melt, and two or three days warm days help a lot, too, with rain. We have got some snow melt in the curb lines, and fortunately we were able to get that 1978 snowblower working which we kept working six or seven days continuously almost around the clock after the blizzard with our in-house crew."
When it comes to any snowstom, we always prepare for the worst-case (scenario)," Scenna said.
Preparing For Another Snowstorm
On Friday Operations Manager Peter Pietrantonio discussed the department's preparations ahead of this weekend's storm.
"We just made sure everything was up and running which we do," Pietrantonio said, adding that the DPW has 30 pieces of equipment prepped for use during the storm and contractors at the ready. "We're ready to fight another storm on a Saturday night.
When it comes to putting chains on tires, "we only put chains on the police vehicles," Pietrantonio said.
"Our vehicles are pretty much heavy enough with salt, and we put sand behind our pickup trucks to give them some weight, but we only need to put chains on our police vehicles," Pietrantonio said.
The department has a big 1978 snowblower that works well and is used to widen city streets and "about 90 percent have been widened," estimated Pietrantonio.
Where fallen tree limbs and heavy snow were not much of an issue during the blizzard, Scenna said the department is more concerned about that with this weekend's storm.