Snow removal costs put some areas tens of millions over budget

GAITHERSBURG, Md. (WJLA) - This year's brutal weather, which nipped at our ears and noses for months, also took a big bite out of local government coffers.

The sheer cost of snow removal and roadway treatment has put some D.C.-area municipalities tens-of-millions over budget. With spring on the immediate horizon and bottom lines amiss, street departments are scratching their heads, desperate to balance their checkbook.

The City of Alexandria tells ABC7 it budgeted $836,000 for winter 2013-14 snow removal. Without even factoring in the St. Patrick's Day snowstorm, Alexandria has shelled-out $1.43 million, that's $600,000 over budget.

Across the Potomac River, Washington, D.C. is worse-off. Although the department of public works allocated $6.2 million on snow removal, it's already spent $8.7 million, $2.5 million over budget.

In Maryland, Howard and Montgomery counties are also feeling winter's bite. Howard County has spent $4.3 million, $3.1 million more than anticipated. Montgomery County has extreme sticker shock, $28 million dropped, $18.1 million over budget.

"It's been very challenging in many respects," said Keith Compton, Montgomery County Department of Highway Services Division Chief. "Over the past three months, the men and women in the department of transportation have built a $28 million project called the winter of 2013-14."

Since Dec. 1, Montgomery County has dispatched its fleet of snow plows and salt trucks 27 times, altogether clearing more than five feet of snow across some 5,200 lane miles.

While the winter of 2010's snow removal, propelled single-handedly by Snowmageddon, still remains the costliest for Montgomery County at $64 million, 2014 has shifted into the number two position at $28 million. Winter 2011 comes in a close third at $27 million.

Nonetheless, with more than 16,000 neighborhood streets under its domain, the Virginia Department of Transportation's northern district, is seeing the biggest local budgetary shortfall. The northern district, which covers the majority of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties, budgeted $63 million for this winter. However to date it's spent $175 million treating and clearing roadways, putting the state agency $112 million in the red.

Although few departments have determined how to make-up their respective loss, a VDOT spokeswoman said its crews will likely be forced to slash certain springtime paving projects.