No More Snow, Please
Public works director Bob Langley says he and his crews have dealt with enough snow for one winter. Mother Nature has other ideas.
Bob Langley was ready for the snow to be over, but Mother Nature, apparently, has other plans.
Peabody may see between 1 and 3 inches of heavy, wet snow over Thursday night as the Tanner City feels the effects of the latest coastal storm.
Langley, the city's public services director, said he was already about $150,000 over his annual budget of $545,000 for snow and ice removal with 45 inches of snow so far this winter in Peabody. That's actually close to the historical winter average for Massachusetts.
Two years ago, Peabody got hit with more than 80 inches of snow in blizzard after blizzard and storm after storm.
More than half of this winter's snow came in the blizzard of Feb. 8-9 -- 26.2 inches to be precise, according to Langley. And that cost $300,000 on private contractors for those two days, plus another $25,000 on salt and sand.
He said the massive snow clearing operation in the downtown days after the storm cost about $30,000.
"We've had enough of winter right now," Langley said Tuesday afternoon, chuckling. He added that the blizzard certainly put the city's resources to the test.
Going over budget on snow and ice removal is a regular occurrence in most cities and towns in Massachusetts -- it's the one item state law allows to remain in the red at the close of the fiscal year.
Peabody, like many communities, regularly under budgets annual spending on snow and ice operations and typically balances the account at the end of the fiscal year with available savings or surpluses from elsewhere in the budget. The city, however, could roll the expenses into the next year's budget.
Langley said $545,000 is a "fairly optimistic number," which hasn't increased for a few years, although with last winter's scant trace of snow, the city actually had a surplus in that account for the first time.
As the winter comes to a close, Langley said, he tries to keep storm cleanup operations in-house as much as possible.
On Tuesday, Langley said, he didn't know what to expect with the threat of a storm -- the forecasts at that point were "all over the board."
In between storms, he said, DPS crews are plenty busy filling pot holes across the city or fixing water main breaks, both of which tend to occur more in the winter.
And then once the snow finally does go away for the season (often by the end of March), it will be time just about time to roll out the street sweepers for the spring.