www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/baltimore-city/south-baltimore/bs-md-snow-removal-budgets-20140214,0,299396.story

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Baltimore area jurisdictions tapping reserve funds for snow removal

Several say they've exhausted budget amounts

By Nayana Davis, The Baltimore Sun

5:03 PM EST, February 14, 2014

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Many jurisdictions across the Baltimore region have exhausted their snow removal budgets for the fiscal year, even as the metro braces for yet another storm.

Thursday's snow storm dumped more than two feet of snow in parts of the region, and the National Weather Service is forecasting additional accumulations of up to several inches by midday Saturday.

While local governments are still tabulating costs of the most recent snowfall, many are turning to reserve funds to cover the impact.

Baltimore County, which saw nearly 16 inches of snow in some areas, had allocated $6 million for snow removal, but ahead of Thursday had already spent $9.9 million, mainly to service the county's 3,000 miles of roadway. The county uses about 12,000 tons of salt on average per storm.

Lauren Byrd, a spokeswoman for the county, said additional expenses will be financed through surpluses from other county departments.

"Last year, we had a $200 million surplus," Byrd said.

Baltimore City's budget to handle ice and snow was about $2.75 million for fiscal year 2014, but as of Monday expenditures had already totaled $5.3 million, according to city officials. Officials will have to request supplemental funds from an as yet undetermined source to mitigate potential deficit from snow expenses.

The city services some 4,000 miles of roads during severe weather events, but the amount of salt used varies with every storm depending on conditions. Officials said salt reserves are continually replenished to prepare for future storms.

Parts of Carroll County saw nearly 20 inches of snow Thursday, which put a strain on salt supplies.

"We were pretty close to empty before the storm," said Ted Zaleski, director of management and budget. "I don't know how we're looking now."

Carroll County budgeted $1.8 million for snow removal this season, but Zaleski couldn't immediately say how much has been spent so far. Carroll has nearly 1,000 miles of roadway to clear out.

"We've certainly exceeded [the budget]," he said. He, too, said the county will cover additional expenditures through budget reserves.

Prior to Thursday, Harford County was already more than $100,000 over its budget of $1.46 million, according to county spokeswoman Sherrie Johnson. She wasn't sure how much the additional snowfall — about 20 inches in some areas of the county — would hurt the budget.

Howard County, which received between 13 and 16 inches this week, had already spent more than double its budget of $1.2 million. Spokesman Mark Miller said the county has about $2 million from a natural disaster contingency fund to fall back on. Howard uses between 2,000 and 3,000 tons of salt to treat more than 1,100 miles of roadway per weather event.

Anne Arundel County, which saw up to 12 inches of snow in the latest storm, does not budget for snow removal. Matt Diehl, a spokesman for the county's Department of Public Works, said in an email that snow removal expenses are typically transferred to the department from a contingency fund. No figures on expenses thus far were immediately available. Before Thursday's storm, Anne Arundel had used 15,000 tons of salt and has more than 10,000 tons in stock.