The brutal winter has drained many snow removal accounts across the state.
The latest batch of snow fell Sunday. The jackpot as of early afternoon was Jackman which reported 13 inches of fresh snow, according to the National Weather Service. Presque Isle reported 11 inches, Robbinston 11.6 inches, and Bangor 7.6 inches. The southern part of the state saw far less with the weather service’s office in Gray reporting less than 1 inch.
The National Weather Service has recorded 91 inches of snow in Portland this season. The average overall seasonal snowfall total for Portland is 52.7 inches, but the highest recorded total came in 1970-71, when 141.5 inches fell. In Bangor, 128.6 inches of snow had fallen so far this season, more than double the average for the entire season of 56.5 inches. The record was 176.7 inches in 1962-63.
The Maine Department of Transportation has spent about $27.8 million for snow removal this season, according to communications director Ted Talbot, which is about $300,000 more than last year.
He pointed out, however, that last winter also was a heavy snow season and that both years have resulted in costs about 25 percent more than what is considered average. He said the department expects it will have another three weeks of work.
He said on average snowfall has been up 27 inches from last year, which has coincided with record cold during February.
Portland has spent $700,000 more than its $1.1 million budget for the season. This snow removal budget is out of an overall city budget of $221 million. A city spokeswoman said there are contingency accounts in the budget and there likely will be other items in the budget that will not be spent to offset the unexpectedly high costs incurred this winter to keep the roads clear.
Megan Bates, deputy director of highway and open spaces for Lewiston, said snow-removal costs through February have exceeded the $1 million budget by about $163,000.
She said the more than 100 inches of snowfall received in the city have been off the charts and, along with the cold, means crews have been working longer hours.
In Eastport, where the community has been besieged by record snowfall totals, Town Manager Elaine Abbott said the town has managed to stay within its snow removal budget because of a combination of factors.
She said there has been a lot of volunteer help. The Eastport Port Authority, the Federal Marine Terminal of Eastport and the Passamaquoddy Water District have helped to assist the town in keeping roads open.
The town has spent 75 percent of its town’s snow removal budget. Abbott also credited the hard work and adaptability of the town’s public works crews with keeping expenses down. She said their ability to repair machinery has saved the town from sending out vehicles for repairs. She said the workers’ skills in welding and wiring repair have been a great benefit.
The town submitted an application to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to get reimbursed for expenses related to the record snow.
Gov. Paul LePage announced Friday that a disaster declaration was approved by FEMA for Androscoggin, Cumberland and York counties. FEMA will reimburse municipalities and state agencies for 75 percent of their costs for at least 48 hours of snow removal.
Presque Isle Director of Public Services Dana Fowler said the snowfall total has been 25 inches above average through February. He said the department is spending about the same as it did in 2011 and 2013. The amount of overtime last year was extreme, he said, because of the amount of snow and when it fell. He said many of the storms occurred evenings and weekends.
In Rockland, the budget for snow removal has been far exceeded. Rockland Public Works Director Greg Blackwell said he has recorded 110 inches of snow in Rockland, which is the most since he came to the job in 2001.
The overtime budget for the public works department was $41,000 for the entire fiscal year, which runs through June 30. As of March 11, the department spent more than $67,000 in overtime. The department has spent more than $30,000 on equipment rental, more than double the $14,000 budgeted. Maintenance accounts are $36,000 over the budgets. The salt budget also has been exhausted.
In addition to the record snowfall totals, the department has had to truck snow to a new dumping ground farther from the center of the city. This season, the snow has been trucked to city property next to the dump. In past years, the city dumped snow overboard in Rockland Harbor at the city fish pier.
City councilors pointed out this week that the change was beneficial to the harbor. Dumping the snow, which included sand, led to the need to dredge by the fish pier and also contributed to the wear and tear on the pier.
Regional School Unit 13 based in Rockland has spent between $30,000 and $40,000 for having the roofs of district schools shoveled, business manager Peter Orne said Thursday. The business manager and superintendent said Thursday they will impose a budget freeze of non-essential items through the end of the year because of the added costs associated with this winter.