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Snow buries Derry plow budget

DERRY — This year's harsh winter has caused the town's Department of Public Works to exceed its snow removal budget by about $170,000, the department's director said.

To help cover the escalating costs, the DPW might have to tap into a special snow and winter maintenance fund, said Michael Fowler, director of public works.

"We've really had a spectrum of different types of storms this year," Fowler said. "And I will say unfortunately we had a run last week where seven or eight days out of 10 consecutive days we were called to do a salt run, to do other runs."

This has been the most expensive winter for snow removal during Fowler's tenure as director, he said.

For this fiscal year, the public work's budget for snow removal was set at $607,000. But as of Feb. 27, the budget had been exceeded by about $145,000, which didn't include an order of salt for $25,000 that had yet to be delivered, Fowler said.

Facing growing costs, the department is considering tapping into the Highway Winter Maintenance Fund, Fowler said. The fund was established about eight years ago following a relatively mild winter. It currently has about $106,000 available, Fowler said.

Public works officials will first consider looking within the department's own overall budget for this fiscal year, however, to see whether there are some funds that could be available to cover the costs.

"Then if we don't feel we can make up the overage on that, the next step would be to seek out supplemental appropriations from the snow and winter maintenance fund, basically a rainy day fund," Fowler said.

If the first two options can't cover the costs, the department would take the last option available and seek a supplemental appropriation from the Town Council, he said.

Despite the budget shortfall, Fowler said he wanted to reassure Derry residents that the department will not curtail services.

"I want to make sure that's clear because I don't want there to be misconceptions that we are cutting back, we aren't sending trucks out, we aren't treating," Fowler said. " We are going to do the same level of service that we always do. We'll worry about the money afterwards."

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