March 24, 2014
The series of heavy snowfalls this year has been taking a toll on local and state road funding.
Our area VDOT district's budget for snow removal for this fiscal year was $10.2 million. As of last week the district had spent approximately $16.2 million.
The City of Charlottesville is in a similar situation. Roughly $139,000 had been put aside for snow removal during the current fiscal year.
City spokeswoman Miriam Dickler says snow removal costs are still being tabulated.
“The final cost isn't known but we believe its approaching about $400,000."
By contrast, the roads were cleared last year for under $30,000.
"400,000 is more than we expect to pay in a normal year for snow removal. But obviously this winter had unexpectedly high snowfall. So that’s something that we are going to have to deal with."
So where are they going to make up that money? Dickler says they are ready.
"There is money in the streets and snow removal budget to cover this and if that money needs to be used for other things later in the year there is money in the contingency fund that can be used toward it."
So does anybody benefit from the bad roads in those big storms? You might think tow truck drivers make out really well, but it’s not really the case. Larry Sipe with Charlottesville Wrecker Service says it takes a lot more to dig out your car in the snow.
"It takes longer to get to the calls, once you get to the call sometimes you have to dig you have to shovel the car out where you can even get to it, if the cars down over a bank or on its top or something like that right there it takes a little bit longer to deal with that so you’re not running calls like weather like today where you can just snatch them and go. "
With one storm just behind us and another on the way, it's safe to say those budget gaps are still just estimates.