By Tom Spencer, Staff Writer
The town of Durham has used half of its budget for snow clearing, according to Todd Selig, the town administrator of Durham. Selig said that the town of Durham had approximately $218,000 allotted to snow removal.
“…[W]e’re estimating that with the storm we’re in now when all is said and done, we will have used about half of our total budget,” Selig said.
Selig reported that between $100,000 and $110,000 remained in the snow and ice removal budget, which pays for plows, road salt and any other equipment needed for the work.
According to Selig, the public works department has been putting a large effort into clearing the snow.
This department consists of 24 staff members, each with a different role, from mechanical work to handling the water system. But with weather such as what Durham and the rest of the east coast has seen lately, all hands are on deck for the monumental task of snow removal.
“To give you an example, we had one public works employee who was scheduled to work 80 hours over two weeks and wound up working 184 hours,” Selig said.
Selig said that one snowstorm would cost the town roughly $10,000 on road salt alone. The past few storms have cost around $30,000 on salt.
If the town needs more money than what was allotted for the snow removal, the new funds will likely come out of other projects and activities planned for the 2015 fiscal year.
“We don’t have a choice in the matter,” Selig said. “We have to keep plowing and salting and keeping the roads safe.”
One distinct challenge of the recent weather is storing the snow in an appropriate place.
“We reach a point where when we clear the roads we cover the sidewalks, and when we clear the sidewalks we cover the roads,” Selig said.
According to Selig, the town handles this problem by carting snow in trucks out to the end of Stone Quarry Drive. These trips add more charges to the cost of snow removal.
On top of that, the frequency of the recent storms makes finding time to clear the snow difficult.
“These storms are back to back, and we’ve had no opportunity to clear the snow out,” Selig said. “That’s why you’re seeing gigantic piles everywhere.”
“Durham is having this problem along with every other town in New Hampshire,” Selig said. “We just don’t have the manpower to remove the snow.”
While Selig admitted it was possible to ask the Durham Town Council for more money, he preferred to remain within the parameters of the established budget.
“I think I speak for everyone when I say ‘enough is enough, we’ve had enough snow.’ I hope the whole student body will join with the town and hope for sun. Think sun, that’s the message.”