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West Springfield Town Council approves deficit spending for snow and ice removal

Date: 3/6/2015

WEST SPRINGFIELD – As spring continues to resist, cities and towns must prepare for the possibility of even more snow before winter will finally bow out.

For the West Springfield Town Council, this meant approving the appropriation of an additional $150,000 to the Department of Public Works for snow and ice removal. The council voted unanimously to make the financial move on March 2.

This allocation will allow the department to deficit spend up to $150,000 for snow and ice removal. The Commonwealth allows municipalities to deficit spend for the managing of snow and ice.

Rob Colson, the director of public works, and the department had previously asked for $370,000 to aid in this particularly difficult winter. The council approved that number on Feb. 17, but Councilor George Kelly, who also serves as chair of the budget management sub committee, recognized that the department would likely need more as the snow continued to pound the region.    

“When we approved the last additional funds that Rob wanted, we knew that night that they probably weren’t sufficient, but [Colson] had a chance to go over his numbers with the mayor so we didn’t want to approve any extra that night,” Councilor George Kelly said.

Colson said that originally appropriated amount came in the midst of even more winter weather.

“The last time we were here there were still a few winter storms that were sorting themselves out. I think snow might have been falling at the time, and we guessed a little low, we estimated a little low,” Colson said.

West Springfield had budgeted for $390,120 in snow and ice removal for the 2015 fiscal year. According to Colson, the addition $150,000 will get them out of the hole, leaving around $100,000 left to finish out the fiscal year.

When it comes to weather, especially during the winter, Colson said it is hard to plan and know exactly how much snow and ice will affect the town.

“To anticipate it, scientifically, is pretty tough; we just don’t know what’s going to happen,” Colson said.    

Given the snowfall totals this winter, Colson said that West Springfield is coming close to a record-breaking year in terms of spending for removal. In spite of this Town Council President John Sweeney said the department and its workers have “gone above and beyond” to serve its residents.

Kelly echoed these sentiments.

“I think they’ve done a great job with what they have faced this year,” Kelly said.