Hard winter drills $95k hole in public works budget

LACONIA — With another eight snow events to deal with in March, the Department of of Public Works overspent its winter maintenance by almost 25 percent.

City Manager Scott Myers told the City Council this week that the DPW had spent $502,639 through the end of March against its budget of $407,500, leaving a deficit of $95,139.

This winter the department spent $376,880 on salt and sand purchases, which was $46,880 more than budgeted. Myers noted that because much of the snow fell outside working hours, the cost of overtime was double the $50,000 projected. Only the appropriation for private contractors of $27,500, which showed a balance of $1,763, proved sufficient.

The deficit all but equaled the balance of $95,222 in the winter maintenance reserve account, which was established two years ago to offset unanticipated expenditures for winter maintenance. Myers said that before drawing on the account he will seek to apply unexpended fiscal year 2014 appropriations against the deficit in order to maintain a balance in the reserve account.

NOTE: City Manager Scott Myers reported that as of April 15 the net increase in the value of new construction was $19.8 million, $800,000 than projected in preparing the 2014-2015 budget. The value of construction, which represents the difference between the value of building permits and demolition permits issued between April 1 and March 31 multiplied by the current property tax rate, together with the rate of inflation is used to calculate the property tax cap.