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By the Numbers: Snow Costs Piling Up in Newtown

While the number and severity of snowstorms is often unpredictable, the town is on pace to spend more on cleanup this winter than last year.

A snowy scene in Sandy Hook. Credit: Gary Jeanfaivre
A snowy scene in Sandy Hook. Credit: Gary Jeanfaivre

When it comes to the cost of snow removal, timing is everything.

That’s because any storm that doesn’t hit between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday will result in overtime pay. And that’s when the dollars can really start to pile up.

Also, salt ain’t cheap. It’s a significant percentage of overall spending on winter storms (58% in 2012-13).

The cost of snow removal, and where the town stands so far this winter compared to last year, was one of the items First Selectman Pat Llodra briefed the Legislative Council on during a meeting this week.

Not counting the snowfall on Friday, the town has responded to seven weather events so far this season, for a total cost of $338,279.14. Last season, the town spent a total of $583,259.30 responding to 18 weather events—including the multi-day snowstorm called Nemo in February, which alone cost Newtown nearly $85,000.

After seven events last winter, the town had spent about $100,000 less than what it has so far this season, Llodra said. Legislative Council Chairman Mary Ann Jacob noted that the seventh weather event last winter didn’t come until Jan. 21, whereas this year it fell on Jan. 6.

Llodra said she hopes and prays that winter events will take place between normal business hours, to avoid overtime costs, which are accrued at time-and-a-half after those hours and at double pay on Sundays and holidays.

Still, she added, “We have the obligation to respond to each event.”

As Llodra spoke, Legislative Council members reviewed a spreadsheet that broke down the costs. Below are some facts from that spreadsheet.

In 2012-13:

  • 3,584.25 yards of sand were used at a total cost of $66,584.75.
  • 4,323.44 tons of salt were used for a total cost of $339,908.46.
  • 4,280 overtime hours logged cost $176,766.09.
  • 1,044.5 of those overtime hours came during the February blizzard.

So far in 2013-14:

  • The costliest weather event came on Dec. 14 - Dec. 15, at $72,370.85.
  • 2,471 overtime hours have been logged for a cost of $101,547.
  • The 2,564.08 tons of salt used cost $200,946.95.
  • $35,785.19 has been spent on 2,123.75 yards of sand.
jlkrause1 January 10, 2014 at 04:13 PM
You can save this article, change some numbers, and use it over and over again every year... Part of the problem is "respond to every event..." Doesn't it make you crazy to see plow trucks running around, sometimes even "plowing" essentially clear roads? This is where a lot of the expense goes. If anything, snowfall during "normal business hours" is the Worst possible scenario, because that is when the traffic wants to be there. Personally, at home, I hope for nighttime snow, so I can clear in the morning, and know it will Stay that way when I get home later. If the towns and cities thought that way, keep crews Home during those days, and work later, then the expense would be a lot less. Instead they work a normal day, and Then work over night, and the towns are "shocked" at the extra cost. Like most project planning, double your best-guess for cost, triple your guess for time, and you should be close.
Thomas Crafts January 11, 2014 at 06:18 AM
Everybody involved LOVES the overtime (except the taxpayers). The suggestion above, wait till morning, is great but the union will never let that happen. In any event it all adds up to about 1 day of school budget, i.e. it's like peeing in the ocean.
Aaron January 11, 2014 at 02:43 PM
So much overtime! I've been out during these snow storms and see the plow trucks moving at turtle speed, some even sitting in non populated areas for long durations. It happens in all seasons, the town workers sit in their trucks, drive farm equipment to local markets just for lunch, and other forms of inexcusable behavior. What needs to happen here in town, is to wipe out these workers and bring in new employees who will get their job done on time, and with no wasted effort.
philip palilla January 12, 2014 at 04:50 AM
Ditto to the above comments...plus the fact they throw an excessive amount of salt and sand on the roads. We might as well have dirt roads. Personally I would like to see the DEP sue the town for too much run off contaminating our streams and lakes.

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