The Washington Post

Montgomery looking at $25 million tab for winter storm response

This winter’s snow has buried Montgomery County’s storm cleanup budget, costing nearly three times what was allocated, a spokesman said Thursday.

The county set aside $9.1 million for weather emergencies in the current fiscal year. But salting, snow removal and overtime for county personnel have pushed the cost to about $25 million. The total is spread across several agencies, including police, fire, the highway division of the Transportation Department and the Department of General Services, which clears snow from around county-owned buildings.

Spokesman Patrick Lacefield said County Executive Isiah Leggett will likely ask the County Council for a supplemental appropriation sometime in the next couple of weeks to cover the added expense.

Most local and state governments in the region are taking the same financial hit. Virginia highway officials, for example, said earlier this month that the state is likely to exceed its $157 million snow removal budget by more than $100 million.

Capital Weather Gang chief meteorologist Jason Samenow said there are no official snowfall records specifically for Montgomery. Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport, perhaps the most representative of the D.C. region’s three airports, has recorded 30.7 inches this winter. But snow in the county is also highly variable, with heavier accumulations in the north. A “cooperative observer” for Samenow in Damascus logged a thumping 56.8 inches. Downcounty is probably closer to 30 inches.

So, if you consider the rough countywide average to be 40 inches, the tab comes to about $625,000 per inch.

Bill Turque, who covers Montgomery County government and politics, has spent more than thirty years as a reporter and editor for The Washington Post, Newsweek, the Dallas Times Herald and The Kansas City Star.



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