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Thursday
Jan132011

US Cities Stagger Under Cost of Clearing Record Snowfalls

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) -- From Nevada to New York, already-wobbly city budgets are being hit by the heavy cost of shoveling out from under record snowfalls.

A mid-December storm dropped 17.1 inches on St. Paul, Minnesota -- the most in almost 20 years.  The city spread 4,000 tons of salt on 800 miles of streets, added staff and paid overtime.  As a result, the city's public works budget has been snowed under by $1 million more than had budgeted for snow removal.

The figure, says Deputy Mayor Margaret Kelly, likely will rise to $1.3 million.  To pay it, she said, the city will have to dip into a fund used to patch potholes, maintain alleys and cut city grass.  The prospect that the fund could be depleted, she says, makes the rest of winter "challenging."

Things are worse in Minneapolis, which has exceeded its snow budget by $3 million.  It, too, plans to dip into reserve funds to pay the cost.

In Missouri, tight budgets mean snow plow crews are being told to make roads "passable," not necessarily clear.

New York City, hit hard by a late December blizzard, is still recovering and paying.  A spokesman for the mayor's office says that while not all costs have yet been tallied, the final snow bill should come in at around $38 million.  Given that the city's budget gap next year is forecast to be $2.4 billion, those millions will be missed.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio