Snow Removal Projected To Cost City $11.5 Million

The city bill for digging out from three massive winter storms is currently projected at $11.5 million, according to a city financial document that came out yesterday.

Budget Director Stephen Agostini stressed that the number is not final, because the city is still finishing clean-up after the third storm, which hit last week. The city did not have any money in the current budget for snow. But Agostini noted that even in years when the city did set aside money for snow, it was a much smaller amount.

The massively expensive winter couldn’t come at a worse time for the city, already struggling with a grim budget situation. Snow clean-up costs have contributed to an increase in the expected budget deficit for the current financial year, which is now at $48.6 million. Another key reason for the jump in the deficit – which stood at $31 million in the fall – was lower than expected sales tax revenues.

“The snow clearly is not helping,” Agostini said. “And we lost another $8 million in sales tax. The economy and pretty tepid job growth has started to cut into consumer spending.”

Agostini said the deficit would be resolved in next year’s budget, which is expected to be released on March 4. The total budget deficit for the 2011 fiscal year, starting July 1, is between $125 and $150 million, Agostini said. That number includes this year's deficit.