‘Stormageddon’ latest pain for city, state budgets

By Reuters
Posted Feb. 3 at 10:43 a.m.

Wednesday’s massive winter storm is the latest pain in the budgets of U.S. cities, states and counties as it sweeps across the North American continent, freezing finances along the way.

In Chicago, which is flirting with records from the Tuesday-Wednesday storm, the costs could eat up much of the city’s $14.8 million allocated for snow removal and hurt its already fragile budget.

The snow and ice storm has hit some 30 states and a third of the U.S. population, some of whom have gone on their Twitter feeds to dub it “Stormageddon” and “snOMGeddon.”

From Rhode Island to North Carolina, officials are having to pay for clearing roads and sidewalks, even though anemic revenue and bigger demand for services due to the 2007-2009 economic recession have driven wide holes in their budgets.

“It could not have happened at a worse time for county budgets,” said Jacqueline Byers, director of research for the National Association of Counties.

After years of revenue losses, many counties deferred road and bridge maintenance or cut money for weather programs to preserve funding for public safety or healthcare, only to be confronted by two winters of heavy snow.

With the current storm, Byers said, “they’re so busy fighting snow or moving it they haven’t been able to figure out the cost.”

To make matters worse, the price of salt used to melt ice and snow has doubled in recent years.

New York City has already been through several rounds of snow this winter and each inch costs the city about $1 million, according to Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Last week he estimated the city had used 200,000 tons of salt and exhausted its $38 million budget for snow removal.

The country’s top snow wrangler — Bret Hodne, the public works director in West Des Moines, Iowa, and recently named the Snow and Ice Control Award Winner for 2010/2011 by the American Public Works Association — said agencies must make tough choices on snow removal.

“The money has got to come from some place,” said Hodne, whose agency spent twice as much money on snow removal than was budgeted last year when the city was hit by a huge storm. “There aren’t a lot of good solutions.”

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One comment:

  1. Daniel Feb. 3 at 12:11 pm

    It’s chaos that is now in several locations in the U.S. by heavy snowstorms that hit the country, estava reviewing the weather forecast for these days and found this video of a man in the news but given the climate when I saw did not know whether to laugh or to continue paying attention, the truth is very good, I leave for you to see also: