CLARKS SUMMIT — The mild weather throughout November and December may not have been popular with winter sports enthusiasts, but local municipalities are reaping the benefits.
The lack of winter storms is a big help to the bottom line.
“It puts us under budget for 2015 in terms of salt,” Clarks Summit Borough Manager Virginia Kehoe said. “That was nice and it also means we have a good start to the next year. We have a balanced budget and the longer we have nice weather, the greater the opportunity we will end the year with a surplus.
“Surpluses are great to help pay off any debt or fund our capital reserves, allowing us to be capable of handling an emergency or to purchase capital investments without using general fund money.”
Kehoe added the borough already transferred money to its debt service and capital reserves that wasn’t previously budgeted.
The borough typically spends $90-95,000 on salt and cinders each year.
“We use mostly salt, but the cinders become important when there is ice or when the deliveries get back up,” Kehoe said. “It helps make the salt last longer.
According to Kehoe, due to the unpredictability of weather in Northeastern Pennsylvania, the borough budgets around the same amount each year.
“We do a conservative budget,” she said. “We always try to plan for the worst when it comes to something like (snow). You really can’t predict what is going to happen next December.”
The diminished use of salt and cinders also saves the borough in other areas.
“A mild winter helps with the long-term road conditions,” Kehoe said. “There will be less damage in the spring and the life expectancy of the roads is longer. Also, the purchasing of tar and hot or cold patch is reduced. It echoes through the whole year.”
The Borough of Factoryville budgeted $18,000 in 2016 for snow and ice removal and plans to use a mix of salt and cinders to treat roads during winter weather events.
“The borough has benefited greatly from not having to spend any additional money on materials for snow removal aside from our original stockpile,” Borough Manager Mary Ellen Buckbee said. “In addition to the cost savings, the warmer weather has helped our maintenance department focus on tasks that they wouldn’t ordinarily have time to do during the winter season, including some needed troubleshooting at the sewer plant.”
Buckbee added many wear and tear issues on borough vehicles are eliminated when the trucks and plows don’t need to be operating during storms.
“There are plenty of times when parts break on the vehicles because they are out at 4 a.m. and it’s difficult to see clearly, especially if its actively snowing.”
According to Buckbee, any excess funds budgeted for snow and ice removal this year will be carried over to next year. The borough budgeted $10,000 in 2015, but ended up spending nearly $26,000.
“We were so over budget from the past (winter) season that we need to catch up a little bit,” she said.
Reach Robert Tomkavage at 570-704-3941 or on Twitter @rtomkavage.