Wintry weather doesn’t just inconvenience commuters, it costs money to remove and to prepare for. Snow plows need drivers, salt is pricey and crews need lots of it.
Considering various snow, ice and sleet events have impacted Carroll County throughout this winter, and with snow back in the forecast for this weekend, the Times checked in with all of Carroll’s municipalities and the county government to see how much money they have left.
The Storm Emergencies section of Carroll County’s Public Works budget was allotted about $2.3 million for fiscal year 2019.
Although accounting is not updated for FY19 after recent inclement weather, Department of Management and Budget Director Ted Zaleski said he believes the county is close to using the entirety of its allotted storm emergency funds.
Last year’s budget was a little more than $2.2 million, and in FY17 it was around $2.1 million, he told the Times. The county used less than $1.4 million in FY17, and about $2.1 million in FY18.
The budget for storm emergencies increases a little each year, Zaleski said, and the amount spent on storm emergencies varies depending on the weather.
“The budget ... that isn’t just about snow removal,” Zaleski said. “We have things like washouts, trees downed in the road, and that is noticeable this year because earlier this summer we had a lot of water problems with all the rain and flooding.
“We started off unusually this year, and then we had the dam breach at Cascade Lake,” he said. “We also ended up spending some money there.
“The biggest cost is the people, and there’s also the buying of salt,” Zaleski said. “There aren’t a whole lot of costs outside of that.”
With a few months left in FY19, he said he isn’t concerned because 1 percent of the entire budget — about $4 million — is saved in the Reserve for Contingencies.
“The biggest use of [the reserve for contingencies] is for snow removal, but it can be used in any number of ways,” Zaleski said. “Unless we have just really unexpected snow, there’s no worry that we can’t cover it.”
Hampstead budgets $30,000 for snow removal every year, said Tammi Ledley, the town manager. That amount is expected to cover the cost of salaries and wages, as well as equipment and supplies. Salt is the most prominent expense, she added.
So far in fiscal year 2019 the town has spent $15,000 — $11,868 of which went to salt.
The town spent $31,964 during the last fiscal year and $18,133 in FY17, Ledley said.
But the winter of 2014-15 was the most brutal, she said, as the town spent more than $41,000 just on salt.
“Salt prices have gone down since then,” Ledley said.
Manchester has spent $26,023 — roughly 72 percent — of the $36,000 it budgeted for snow removal in fiscal year 2019, said Kelly Baldwin, the town’s director of finance.
The budgeted funds cover salaries ($15,000) and operating expenses ($21,000), she said.
The town spent more than $52,431 on snow and ice removal in FY18 and slightly more than $27,000 in FY17.
Charlene Singleton, Mount Airy’s senior accounting clerk, said the town has spent almost three-quarters of the $120,000 it budgeted for snow removal wages and salaries and supplies in fiscal year 2019.
The town has spent more than $20,000 on wages and salaries, including the most recent pay period, Singleton said. It’s spent $68,297 on supplies — including salt — and equipment repair, she added.
“This year I think we had to buy some sort of apparatus to spread salt,” she said.
Mount Airy spent about $70,000 for snow removal in FY17 and almost $113,000 on snow removal — almost 85 percent of which was spent on supplies and equipment — in FY18.
New Windsor had budgeted $1,300 for snow removal, $2,000 for overtime and $8,000 for salt in FY19, according to Mayor Neal Roop.
“As of the end of January — our financials haven’t been done for February — for salt $1,400,” he said. "Now we probably used a little bit more than that in February but as of January we had used $1,400 of the $8,000 in salt.”
Roop said that the frequent ice, sleet or freezing rain storms this winter had led to more salt use.
The town has spent almost 67 percent of the funds it budgeted for snow removal in fiscal year 2019.
Sykesville budgeted $31,500 and has spent almost $20,671, eclipsing the amount it spent on removing snow each of the last two fiscal years, said Evelyn Sweet, the town treasurer.
The town spent almost $20,000 on snow removal in FY18 and about $11,000 in FY17, accounting for 65 and 37 percent of what Sykesville budgeted each of those fiscal years.
Taneytown budgeted $75,000 for snow and ice removal for the last three fiscal years, according to figures prepared by the city’s Department of Public Works.
To date in fiscal year 2019 the city has spent $40,000, meaning $47,000 of the budget remains. It spent almost $50,000 the previous fiscal year and less than $20,000 in FY17, the city said.
The figures include salt purchases from the county, salt hauling fees, cleaning meter spaces downtown when needed and maintenance to snow removal equipment, according to the city.
Salt cost $64.37 per ton in fiscal years 2017 and 2018, but decreased almost $2 in FY19, Taneytown public works detailed.
Taneytown does not calculate a running dollar amount for snow removal personnel hours. To date in FY19 the snow removal personnel have tallied almost 110 regular hours and 172 overtime hours removing, the city said.
The hours already eclipse regular and overtime snow removal hours increased from FY18, which were up from the year before.
Union Bridge Clerk and Treasurer Dawn Metcalf did not return calls Wednesday requesting information on the town’s snow removal budget and expenditures.
Carroll County’s largest municipality has spent $108,000 of the $180,000 it budgeted for snow removal in fiscal year 2019, said Jeff Glass, Westminster public works director.
“Not in bad shape for this time of year,” Glass wrote in an email to the Times.
However, he added, “March can produce snow of significant accumulation.”
The 40 percent of snow-removal funds remaining could “be consumed very quickly if it became necessary to remove (or) haul snow from downtown.”
The city spent $220,000 and $101,000 in fiscal years 2018 and 2017, according to Glass.