Few Long Islanders will argue that this has been a rough winter. After a few dustings of snow in December, several major storms have pounded the region since the calendar rolled over to 2014, and that has had an impact on local schools and municipalities.
With five weeks of winter remaining, the village has exceeded its snow budget for the year. As of Tuesday, it had spent just shy of $150,000 on personnel costs, more than the $95,000 that was budgeted. Village Treasurer Michael Fox said that overtime costs were the big factor. “It’s basically the timing of the storms,” he said, noting that when major snowfall occurs on a weekend or at night, workers are paid at a higher rate.
Fox said he could make up the difference by using money from budgeted salaries for positions that are vacant. If Valley Stream is hit with another significant storm, he said, he would have to dip into reserves, “Our rainy-, or snowy-day fund, as you would like to call it,” he said.
The village is responsible for clearing snow from about 90 miles of roads as well as dozens of municipal parking lots. In addition to overtime costs, it budgeted $60,000 for sand, salt and other materials.
Valley Stream had about 550 tons of salt ready at the start of the winter, but the supply rapidly diminished because of the frequent storms. Last week the village received a truckload of salt from Nassau County because its normal supplier was unable to make a delivery.
Fox explained that he creates a budget based on the average the village has spent for snow removal over the previous three years. As a result of this year’s harsh winter, he is already upping the numbers for next year. “I always hope for as little snow as possible,” he said.
District 24 has $100,000 budgeted for snow removal. So far, the district has spent about $3,000 for ice melt and about $30,000 on overtime. “We can weather a couple more storms,” Superintendent Dr. Edward Fale said.
He explained that the district’s custodial and maintenance crews are responsible for plowing the parking lots and shoveling the walks at the three elementary schools.