No snow

There have been few occasions this winter for the State Highway Administration to use the road-clearing chemicals and plows at its storage facility on Washington Boulevard. The mild winter has helped Baltimore County save approximately $4 million. (Staff photo by Ed Bunyan / February 27, 2012)

With Mother Nature seemingly forgetting about winter and moving right to spring, Baltimore County may end up saving millions of dollars this year.

The county has spent only $1.7 million of its $5.9 million allocated for weather-related clean-up for Fiscal Year 2012, said David Fidler, a spokesman for the Baltimore County Department of Public Works.

The fiscal year runs from July 1, 2011 to July 1, 2012.

"We will be returning about $4 million back to the budget," Fidler said. "That's if everything goes well and there won't be more spent."


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According to the website of the National Weather Service, the Baltimore area averaged 1.9 inches of snow in March from 1981 to 2010.

In 1892, the Baltimore area saw 25.6 inches fall, the website stated.

The less than $2 million spent this year to clear the county's 2,677 miles of roads comparison to $20.8 million for the 2010 snow season, nearly double the $11.5 million it spent last year, Fidler said.

"The county will spend whatever it takes to get this stuff cleaned up," Fidler said.

Of this year's amount, about $455,000 came in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, Fidler said.

The first of four winter storms needing clean up that the county weathered this fiscal year came in October. Another followed in January. The final two hit at the beginning of February, Fidler said.

The southwest portion of Baltimore County deployed snow plows only twice, on Jan. 20 and Feb. 8, Fidler said.

The Jan. 20 storm accounts for $856,000 of what the county has spent so far, Fidler noted.

Included in that clean up cost, Fidler said, is $293,000 in labor, $537,000 in materials and $25,000 in independent contractors hired to help clear the roads.

Fidler noted that it costs $108,000 for every hour the county spends salting the roads and $37,000 for every hour plowing them.

The time it takes to salt and plow the roads depends on the severity of the storm, Fidler said.

Councilman Tom Quirk, who represents the 1st District, which includes Catonsville and Arbutus, is rooting for the warm weather.

"These are exceptionally tough fiscal times for the county," Quirk said. "Any way we can save money, including mother nature helping out, I'll gladly welcome."