The latest in a series of snow storms is putting pressure on municipal budgets. City and town leaders are reacting in different ways.
In Pawtucket, snow-removal costs have led Mayor Donald Grebien to tell department heads to hold the line on new spending.
Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian said his city has already paid for a stockpile of salt and sand, although only about a fifth of Warwick’s initial snow-removal budget remains. “It’s always a concern, but having done this for so many years, we know that there are some years where we make money up in the snow removal budget and years where we’re over-budget and it all evens out,” said Avedisian.
Westerly town leaders say their budget is feeling the strain of overtime hours after three snow storms in as many weeks. Municipal coffers could get taxed again later this week.
Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza said the capital city has used about two-thirds of its snow-removal budget as of Monday. He said the city budgeted one-point-six million dollars for snow removal, and has so far spent about a million.
As a first-time elected official, Elorza said he does not feel frustrated by the frequency of recent winter storms. “I’ve always enjoyed the snow. Of course, right now, it’s a matter of making sure that our residents are safe and also making sure that we get the city back into working order as soon as the snow passes.”
Elorza remains cautiously optimistic that federal aid will help cover costs associated with the blizzard last month. Regardless of the winter weather, Elorza has been running with city residents, every Sunday morning in Roger Williams Park. More snow is expected Thursday and Friday.
The Rhode Island Department of Transportation expects to max out the snow removal budget by the time cleanup is finished from this latest storm. RIDOT budgeted $14 million for snow removal this year. The agency said that figure is about to be met. RIDOT Director Michael Lewis said he will try to use money from the department’s overall budget to cover additional costs for snow removal.
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