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Late-December snowfalls have little impact on budget

The snow that fell to round out 2012 – after a green Christmas – will have minimal impact on last year’s winter control budgets in the township, which should wind up in a healthy position given last season’s mild conditions.

How the rest of this winter plays out, however, will determine the fate of the 2013 budget, just a handful of days old at this point.

Despite last week’s snowfall, Wellesley Township’s Willis McLaughlin, executive director corporate/operations, predicts his 2012 budget will end up in good shape. This year could be much the same.

“I don’t think it’s any different than last year to be honest with you,” he said of the budget.

The money allotted is based on a 10-year average of winter conditions and even though this winter promises to be harder than last year’s, it is unlikely that current conditions will rattle the budget.

“One year up or down doesn’t make much difference,” he added.

Wellesley staff has been taking some precautionary measures by taking to the roads early in the mornings, clearing problem areas in more difficult weather conditions as they come up.

“I know they have been out more than people think – every day that it’s necessary,” McLaughlin said.

When there is a promise of snow, freezing rain or slush, crews head out as early as 4 a.m. to beat the morning work rush. McLaughlin explained that crews try to get around to all of the paved roads in the township at the very least, and are usually finished the task by 8 a.m.

The budget is in good shape in Woolwich too.

“We’re doing quite well,” said Dan Kennaley, the township’s director of engineering and planning.

The township allocated $638,000 for 2012 and expenditures to date add up to $436,000, though staff anticipates this amount will rise.

“There’s still going to be some towards the end of December that haven’t gotten into the accounting system yet, so that $436,000 is going to climb,” Kennaley explained.

“But we are still going to be well under budget, not surprising given the mild winter we had last year and the mild start to this winter as well.”

The balmy winter last year allowed for some savings from last January through to the spring, and funds looked steady going into the fall of 2012. But though winter has only recently set in, he said staff have been out on the streets long before the snow, busy with other types of weather maintenance.

“I think a lot of people would probably be surprised that we’ve even spent $436,000. One thing that has to be kept in mind is that you might not get a lot of snow; a lot of times you get ice on the roads and this is what we found last year in particular,” he said. In 2012 crews spent the majority of the funds spreading sand on main roads.

Forecasts of a rougher winter this year aren’t glad tidings for Kennaley.

“Early predictions were that we were going to have a real winter this year. Of course, we didn’t see that in the fall. I’m obviously hopeful from a budgetary perspective that trend of warmer weather and less snow is going to continue … and that we will finish 2013 with a budget surplus.”

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