Snow Removal Puts Budget in the Red

Everyone except public school students is sick of the snow.  And the taxpayers of Everett have a very good reason for not wanting any more snow for the rest of the season since the snow budget is now well in the red adding further strain to an already tight budget.

At Monday night’s Common Council meeting several Councilors quizzed City Services Director Brian Zaniboni about everything from the cost of snow removal to the way streets are being plowed or not plowed.

Zaniboni told the Councilors that the city has spent more than $45,900 on snow removal, which is almost $26,000 more than what had been budgeted. Road salt costs have been more than $118,000 or $38,000 over the budgeted amount.

The employees at the Department of Public Works and fire fighters received praise for their work in clearing the main streets and uncovering the buried fire hydrants.

“Everett Square looks fantastic,” Councilor Anthony Ranieri said. “But where did you put all that snow?”

Zaniboni told the councilors that more than 340 truckloads of snow were removed and dumped at the city snow dumps located on Waters Avenue and at lower Broadway.  He noted that the city has not had to pay any additional costs to dump this snow.

Councilor John Leo McKinnon also had praise for the snow removal but was wondering why the main streets were not plowed to the curb.  He noted that cars had been towed or ticketed for parking on the wrong side of the street but had no place to park their cars on the other side due to the fact that the plowing was very poorly done.

Zaniboni said that he was aware of this fact and was meeting with the contractors but since the storms had dumped so much snow and the plowing was not done correctly, there is little to be done now.  He promised this would not happen again.

Councilors also found out that the MBTA is responsible for clearing the sidewalks in front of the bus stop shelters.

Overall, Councilors were pleased with the snow removal results but heard the news that there probably will not be any additional fiscal help from the state or federal government.  (See Articles 15,17,18, 21,22 and 23)

No Discussion

There were two items that had been hot button issues in the past but received no discussion from the Councilors this time around.

The first was an item seeking a grant to add more personnel to help create a master plan.  Community Development Director Marzie Galazka who was present at the meeting was not called to explain the grant.  After the meeting, Galazka noted that the grant is being sought from the Metropolitan Planning Council and will be used to hire staff to review all zoning ordinances.  She noted that this money will not cost local taxpayers but would help make Everett development much more uniform and provide better and a higher use for all developable land.

The other order authorizing $500,000 for the purchase of the new commercial water meters just flew through the Council.

The money will be borrowed from the Mass. Water Resources Authority and will replace commercial water meters that have not been recording the amount of water being used correctly, thereby costing the city coffers hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost revenue per year.  City officials estimate that the water meters will pay for themselves in about two years.

The funding for the project is expected to be approved on March 17 and bidding for the new water meters would go out on April 1 – no fooling.

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