Cities like Pawtucket already over snow removal budget

By: Rebecca Turco

Email: rturco@abc6.com

PAWTUCKET – This blockbuster winter has cities like Pawtucket over their snow removal budget.

“This is public safety, so we’re overspending our budget because we have to,” said Mayor Donald Grebien.

Pawtucket spent around $1 million on blizzard cleanup two weeks ago, and around $400,000 since, according to Grebien. Now, the city is about $700,000 over its snow removal budget.

So, Grebien put a hold on hiring and non-essential expenses. “We’re looking within our budget,” he said.

But that could change if the city gets federal money for the blizzard’s price tag. “If FEMA comes through, we’ll look at it differently then,” Grebien said. “Until then, the residents expect the service, but with all this snow it’s a costly service.”

If approved, FEMA would reimburse up to 75 percent of snow removal expenses during the state of emergency, according to Grebien.

In Warwick, there is about $88,000 left in the snow cleanup budget, according to Mayor Scott Avedisian. The question is, will that money last long enough?

“We can pretty much gauge, unless we get really socked with a huge storm, what the overall worst possibility could be and then try to make that work,” Avedisian explained.

He already has plans if the money runs out. “We would transfer money into the snow removal budget from other line items that had not been expended,” he said.

Experience also helps. This isn’t his first snow storm and over the years, he has learned to get sand and salt shipments in intervals, instead of all at once. “We try to make sure that we’re one delivery ahead of schedule, so we’re not going to run out like what happened to many communities last year,” Avedisian explained. “So we still have product even though we won’t have the money in the budget.”

© WLNE-TV 2015