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Melrose's $500K Snow Budget Has Been Spent

The Melrose Department of Public Works's snow budget of $500,000 has already been spent this winter, according to Director John Scenna.

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."

Equipment Issues

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."

Post-Storm Cleanup

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.

D Medlin February 23, 2013 at 05:53 PM
Maybe you can ask the Mayor for some cash, he just got a pay raise more than I make in a whole year.
cliff webb February 24, 2013 at 12:21 AM
What a farce. They say they had a surplus but don't know what it is for the article. They under shot budget forecasting. Only in the public sector can incompetence go I unpenalized. And the mayor is given a 26% salary increase. For what? Poor budgeting skills? I am sure the liberals of this town are so very proud.
Ann February 24, 2013 at 02:03 AM
Where did last years $ 500,000.00 go? We didn't use it so it should still be there right?
Mark Ouellette (Editor) February 24, 2013 at 11:30 AM
Hi Ann, Last year's snow budget was $450,000, not $500,000, and the DPW spent at least $200,000 of it. Any surplus was put toward other deficits the city had last year.
Myron Dittmer February 24, 2013 at 03:11 PM
You can certainly fault the Mayor on some things but budgeting and predicting snowfall for a winter season is not one of them. Mother nature is unpredictable and predicting snowfall is not an exact science so why hold budgeting for such events to such scrutiny? It doesn't pass the smell test of your issue ...sounds like you have some other issues that bother you about the Mayor. Perhaps those are the ones you need to discuss.

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