After last year's harsh winter and overspending the snow maintenance budget by more than $400,000, this year's sparse winter allowed the town to save $16,000, according to DPW Director Robert Grover.
At Town Meeting May 7, the town is looking to transfer the savings from the DPW snow maintenance account to other departments to cover other shortfalls and balance the budget, according to Grover.
"We budgeted $190,000 this year for snow removal, which is the same we've budgeted for the last 10 years," Grover said. "(The town) historically underfunds that budget knowing full well if it is exceeded the (Massachusetts) Department of Revenue allows you to automatically exceed that budget as long as you've appropriated what you did the year before. You do have to make up the money, but you can just keep spending without getting further authorization.
"Last year I spent $633,857. Last year was a heavy year as you know. We overspent the budget by $443,857."
While the town had several snowstorms to contend with and clean up after a year ago, there were just two storms to deal with this winter: the Oct. 30, 2011 storm just before Halloween and another on Jan. 22, according to Grover.
"What happened on the October storm is we had a lot of tree damage after the fact so it wasn't just the snow itself. The snow broke a lot of branches, we had trees up against houses, etcetera," Grover said. "The other thing we spent money on, which we do every year, is materials. We had quite a few sanding operations and sand and salt is very expensive so $190,000 isn't nearly enough. Most of the communities actually under budget their snow and ice accounts.
"Saugus passed an override or debt exclusion this year to cover snow costs for the year," according to Grover.
Even with a quiet winter, the town still had to spend most of its snow maintenance budget to keep roads clear of snow, ice and debris, so the savings amounted to $16,000, according to Grover.
"We didn't save a lot of money, but we didn't put a lot of money up front," Grover said. "We didn't overspend by as much as we normally do. The $16,000 is being transferred out of the (snow maintenance) budget at the May Town Meeting to cover other shortfalls in the town to help balance the budget," Grover said.