NORWAY — Local towns seem to be holding their own this winter despite record-setting snowstorms that have forced some to dig deep into their snow-removal budgets.
Resources are being stressed, but town managers in Norway, Paris and Oxford all report they remain within their snow removal budgets.
“On the whole, Norway is right on target,” Norway Town Manager David Holt said.
With another snowstorm predicted for Wednesday, Thursday and possibly Friday, officials in Oxford County towns are continuing to watch their budgets carefully.
Because many storms have occurred on the weekend, cities and towns across the state have incurred significant overtime expenses, and some, like Portland, have even drained their overtime budgets.
In Norway, where $40,000 was budgeted for Highway Department overtime in fiscal 2012-2013, 75 percent of that budget, slightly more than $30,000, has already been spent. Holt said snow removal is one of the few budgets that allows a 10 percent overdraft, which provides a financial cushion.
Paris Town Manager Amy Bernard said she doesn't allow a lot of overtime with the Highway Department, to ensure the department stays within budget.
“Our budget is looking fairly good at this point, even though we've had a lot of storms,” she said.
Managers are also keeping a watchful eye on their salt and sand budgets.
“Our salt budget is diminished, but we may be able to make it after all,” said Bernard, who also serves as road commissioner.
In Norway, the salt and calcium budget of $80,000 is depleted by $51, 500, or 64 percent, while the $50,000 sand and gravel budget is down by $29,000, or 58 percent. Holt said some calcium is used on gravel roads in the summer months for dust control, and gravel is used for road repairs, but a great majority of the salt and calcium, and almost all the sand, is used to keep winter roads safe.
Town managers are also aware that funds might be needed in the event of spring floods or other non-winter disasters.
“Since it doesn't snow much in May and June, we may come out OK, although there can be spring floods with costly repairs and overtime,” Holt said.
Lynette Miller, spokeswoman for the Maine Emergency Management Agency, said Tuesday that four counties — Androscoggin, York, Cumberland and Knox — have requested financial assistance from the federal government. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is now verifying numbers submitted by the counties.
If the numbers bear out, Gov. Paul LePage will have the option to formally request that President Barack Obama declare the counties federal disaster areas. That would allow Maine communities to receive reimbursement from the federal government.
While Oxford County has not made a request yet, there is still almost a month left in winter, and spring storms are possible, too.