Last year the city of Newton spent approximately $4.2 million on snow and ice removal. This year, our city has spent approximately $900,000 on snow removal supplies (salt, sand, etc.) and to take care of our streets during a couple of wussy “winter events.”
Newton’s budget for snow removal this fiscal year is $3 million, so we could see about $2 million in savings.
Also what, inquiring minds might wonder, have our DPW workers been doing since they haven’t been out there clearing our streets? Here’s what Citizens Assistance Officer Aaron Goldman told me in an email:
The mild winter has allowed for increased cost-savings and rescheduling within our Public Works Department, getting ahead of schedule on high priority projects that would normally have to wait until later in the spring. The department has completed the installation of new accessibility ramps on California Street, repaired the shoulder along portions of Centre Street in preparation for the installation of bicycle lanes, begun installing new accessibility ramps at the corner of Walnut Street and Washington Street, and begun reconstruction of the Crystal Lake parking lot as part of a water quality improvement initiative.
Another benefit of this mild winter has been less damage to our streets, and fewer potholes. How many fewer? Here’s some numbers from Goldman:
Potholes reported from 1/1/11-3/12/11: 374
Potholes reported from 1/1/12-3/12/12: 114
All that leads to one obvious question, what should Newton do with all the unspent snow removal money — and even those dollars saved from not needing to patch as many streets?