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Snow Removal Costs Pile Up in Falmouth

But while snow and ice removal expenditures annually outstrip their budgeted amount, the state allows towns to carry this one item forward every year, keeping municipal funds free for other needs, explains Falmouth's highway superintendent.

Last winter, snow and ice removal cost Falmouth nearly half a million dollars, said Highway Superintendent John Lyons. (Patch file photo)
Last winter, snow and ice removal cost Falmouth nearly half a million dollars, said Highway Superintendent John Lyons. (Patch file photo)
Even before this week's snowstorm dumped more than half a foot of snow on Cape Cod, the town of Falmouth had already blown through its snow and ice removal budget for the current fiscal year.

But there's no fiscal snow emergency brewing: Cape towns generally underbudget for snow removal, because this is the one budget item the state allows them to carry forward from year to year, explained Falmouth Highway Superintendent John Lyons in a Patch interview last week.

"Our annual snow and ice budget is $150,000 and it's level-funded every year," Lyons said. To fund a higher amount "would tie that money up, in case we have a mild winter," he continued.

After the blizzard of Jan. 2 and Jan. 3, Lyons said, the town had expended $182,500 on snow and ice removal.

Falmouth's highway department is responsible for plowing both public and private roads in the town, totaling about 425 miles, Lyons said.

"And they're plowed in each direction, so double that figure" for the total number of road-miles that must be cleared, he added.

Last winter, the town spent just under $500,000 on snow and ice removal costs ranging from plow blades and sand to salaries and contractors' services, Lyons said. In 2005, he continued, a pair of large storms arriving "back to back" pushed the town's costs close to $1,000,000.

"You just never know what Mother Nature's going to throw at you," he said.

"Public safety is number one."

How was the plowing in your Falmouth neighborhood during and after the latest storm? Tell us in the comments.
Bill Carson January 25, 2014 at 08:18 AM
Falmouth Spring Town Meeting is April 7, 2014. Town Meeting Members have got to start doing their homework now. The winter is only half over and the snow budget is gone. The Select Board continues to do re-do lawsuits against the wind turbine victims. The teachers want a 1.6 million dollar raise with a prop 2 1/2 raise. The Falmouth Energy Committee hasn't reported the total cost of electric power to the Select Board in two years. The wind turbines were supposed to bring in nearly one million per year but instead are costing $250,000.00 a year to operate. The debt service is enormous on the turbines - How much longer before someone does the math ? The turbines are a health and financial fiasco. Do your homework but first get up on the floor of Town Meeting and ask for the figures .

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