Stormy Winter Pushes Watertown’s Snow Plowing Costs Nearly $700K Over Budget

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Charlie Breitrose

A Watertown Department of Public Works snow plow.

Charlie Breitrose

A Watertown Department of Public Works snow plow.

The string of snow storms over the winter of 2017–18 has busted Watertown’s snow plowing budget by close to $700,000.

Last week, the Town Council approved an increase to the Snow and Ice Removal Budget for Fiscal Year 2018. The Town budgeted $1,170,000 for snow and ice removal, but Town Manager Michael Driscoll said that has been well exceeded.

“Given the amount of events, and the amount of snow, we are asking for $624,734 to be added to the Fiscal Year 2018 Snow and Ice Removal Budget,” Driscoll said.

Town Council President Mark Sideris said he hopes that the approval of the additional snow and ice removal funds is not premature, given the whacky weather thus far in April.

While the budget came in much higher than expected, 2018 won’t be the costliest winter for the Town. The high point for Watertown’s Snow and Ice budget came during the “Snowmageddon” winter of 2015 when the town spent $2.2 million to plow snow, treat the streets with salt and sand, and more. By contrast, the mildest winter in recent years was 2012, when the town did not even spend $400,000 on snow removal. See Watertown’s recent snow removal expenditures below.

Without approval of the budget transfers, Driscoll said, the Town’s Fiscal Year 2019 Budget would start with a deficit.

The extra $674,734 will come from a few accounts in the Fiscal 2018 Town Budget: $330,000 from School Health Insurance, $200,000 from Town Health Insurance, $60,000 from Retiree Health Insurance, and $34,736 from the Town Council Reserve.

Councilor Tony Palomba wondered why there was so much money remaining in the health insurance accounts. Town Auditor Tom Tracy said the Town will not be spending as much as expected on health insurance, so there will be a surplus in those accounts.

The Town Council voted to approve the budget transfers by a 9–0 vote.

Watertown Snow & Ice Removal Expenditures by Fiscal Year

2011 – $1,498,453

2012 – $399,420

2013 – $1,220,668

2014 – $1,675,627

2015 – $2,206,518

2016 – $1,006,648

2017 – $1,898,008

2018 – $1,794,734

Source: Town of Watertown

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