May 23, 2018
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Winter snowstorms in Lincoln overextending town’s budget

By Nick Sambides Jr., BDN Staff

LINCOLN, Maine — With what he thinks will be another 1½ months of winter weather yet to go, Public Works Department Director David Lloyd says he might be forced to exhaust much of his road-clearing budget, he said Friday.

As of Feb. 1, his 2010-11 fiscal year budgets for overtime, fuel expenses and contractual services were 61, 52 and 86 percent expended, respectively, with almost five months remaining in the fiscal year, Town Manager Lisa Goodwin said.

Lloyd and Goodwin blamed heavy snowstorms that usually came on weekends, increasing fuel costs and rigid scheduling forced by union contracts for the unanticipated expenses.

“If it keeps going the way it has been, I will need to overspend my budget. The fuel, overtime and maybe my salt budget lines will be overexpended. Then we would have to appropriate more money from elsewhere in the budget,” Lloyd said Friday. “Right now I am not worried, but I am concerned.”

Town Council Chairman Rod Carr wasn’t surprised at the news.

“It has been a really snowy year,” Carr said Friday. “Even when we didn’t get the big storms that other places got, we had smaller storms that forced [town workers] to be out clearing roads.”

The town’s workers often are clearing roads even when it isn’t snowing. Much of their job involves using backhoes to carry snow out of areas where snow-pile congestion isn’t allowed, such as downtown, in municipal parking lots or narrow side streets. Lloyd’s department also has about 5 miles of sidewalks to maintain, Goodwin said in a statement.

It also often takes several days for a single snowstorm to be cleared, Goodwin said. She asked that any resident who knows of a public area that needs clearing call the department at 794-6658. Crews will respond as quickly as they can.

Lloyd said that about 75 percent of the heaviest storms came on weekends or late Friday afternoons, forcing crews to work on overtime. Rescheduling workers for weekends can’t occur without reopening negotiations on his department’s union contract, he said.

“Fuel expenses are also higher than we budgeted for,” Lloyd said.

The council will meet on Monday, but Lloyd prefers to wait another month before discussing the issue with councilors. A change in weather conditions could eliminate the problem, he said.

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