Winter Cleanups Compounding Budget Woes

Tuesday, 01 Feb 2011 02:40 PM

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The bill for snow removal is piling up this winter on top of the red ink that already had buried many local budgets, The New York Times reports.

With another major storm poised to hit as many as 19 states this week, municipalities have no choice but to keep spending more than they had set aside for clearing streets.

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Mayor R.T. Rybak
"On a weather map, some people see snowflakes; I see dollar signs," said Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak.

In December alone Minneapolis overran its 2010 snow budget by $3.3 million.

Midwestern cities don't expect relief anytime soon: Severe arctic activity is forecast for this week, on top of what has already been a record-setting winter for storms and snowfall.

City leaders say snow removal is vital, but will force spending cuts in other programs.

The northeast is under similar pressure: New York City has blown through its snow budget and then some, and will be digging out yet again when this week's storm sweeps in from the Midwest.

The acute demand for cleanup also comes at a time of tentative recovery from the economic downturn, with tax receipts only just beginning to recover.

More than half the nation's cities and counties had reported cutting their public works budgets in recent years, and many are meeting the blizzards with less manpower and smaller fleets of plows.






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