Harford County government went over its snow removal budget this fiscal year by $776,000, most of that attributable to the blizzard from Winter Storm Jonas that dumped more than 30 inches of snow on the county over two days Jan. 22-23.
A bill was introduced to the County Council at its meeting Tuesday seeking approval to transfer $900,000 from the county's unappropriated fund balance to cover the costs plus any additional snow removal costs the county could incur the rest of this fiscal year, which ends June 30.
The $900,000 will cover overtime, $400,000; vehicle and operating equipment, $460,000; and fuel charges, $40,000, according to the legislation. A public hearing on the bill is scheduled for 7 p.m. May 3 in the county council chambers.
In this fiscal year's budget, the county budgeted $1,708,012 for snow removal.
By Feb. 8, the county had already spent $1.8 million, "so we knew we were over-budget but hadn't gotten all the invoices from the contractors hired to deal with the record-breaking snowfall," county spokesperson Cindy Mumby said. "It's safe to say the blizzard pushed us over the edge."
As of Wednesday, the county had spent $2.48 million on snow removal for the winter. With the $900,000 transfer, the county will have more than $350,000 left in the event of another snow storm this fiscal year.
"There is a little extra still built in there," Mumby said. "I hesitate to say it, but the season may not be over. They are projecting snow this weekend."
The National Weather Service forecasts a slight chance of snow showers Friday after 2 a.m. and a chance of rain and snow showers Saturday between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. Friday night's low temperature is forecast at 33, while Saturday's high is 46.
This year's budgeted amount was higher than previous years.
"It was more than before, but we did not anticipate this historic snowstorm," Mumby said.
The County Council unanimously approved appointments and reappointments to several local boards and commissions.
Walter A. Tilley was appointed and C. John Sullivan was reappointed to three-year terms on the Harford County Liquor Control Board. Both terms expire April 1, 2019.
"I want to thank Vernon Gauss for his time he served on the board and I also wish my other friend, Butch Tilley, success," Councilman Chad Shrodes said as he cast his vote. Tilley replaced Gauss, who served eight years.
Alex M. Allman was appointed to a second five-year term on the Harford County Public Library Board of Trustees. His term will expire June 30, 2021.
Alex Lumbard is the new member of the Harford Center Board of Directors, replacing Beverly Jones.
Otelia Brannigan was named to the Harford County Youth Commission, replacing Tim Wills as the representative from the Boys and Girls Clubs of Harford County. The term runs consecutive to that of the county executive and will expire Dec. 3, 2018.
A resolution was introduced to the council amending the county's Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development's Administrative Plan to reflect changes required by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.
A public hearing is not required on the resolution; Council President Richard Slutzky said the council would consider the resolution at its next session.
One change is the documentation that can be presented to the Harford Department of Housing and Community Development to qualify as homeless.
Housing Director Len Parrish said HUD is requiring a referral from a continuing care agency, which in Harford County is the Community Action Agency.
Another change includes a partnership among housing agencies in the Baltimore Metropolitan area to accept background checks done by other counties. In addition to Harford, those agencies include Anne Arundel, Howard and Carroll counties and Baltimore City and County, according to Parrish.
The definition of family also changed, according to HUD, and a family cannot be discriminated against because of its sexual orientation, gender identification or marital status, Parrish said.