Storm plows through city's snow-removal budget

Sean Philip Cotter

York City officials say by the time all's said, done and plowed, winter storm Jonas likely will come close to blowing through the city's entire snow removal budget.

Barry Musser, with Stewart and Tate Construction, moves snow around in the parking lot at Memorial Park in preparation for York City snow to be transported later in the evening in York, Pa. on Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016. (Dawn J. Sagert - The York Dispatch)

"We're eating up our entire budget on this one storm," said Michael Doweary, the city's business administrator.

The city budgeted about $160,000 for snow removal in 2016, said Public Works Director Jim Gross, and "It's a possibility" all of that will be used up on dealing with the repercussions of the storm, which dumped two and a half feet of snow on York County.

York City has 20 to 25 public works employees working opposite 12-hour shifts, so workers are taking on the snow around the clock, Gross said. They're paid about $22 an hour, with overtime receiving time and a half, he said. The crews will continue working around the clock for the time being, he said.

Another 15 to 20 people working on the snow are contractors.

"The contractors is where we start to get into the big costs," Gross said.

It's roughly $100 per hour to contract a piece of equipment, so a full day of that would be around $2,400. Multiply that by quite a few days and people, and "it adds up pretty quickly," Gross said.

After the third snow-related press conference in as many days, Mayor Kim Bracey told The York Dispatch she intends to stop the cost of this storm from going over $150,000.

"I'm going to have to pull the plug on the contractors" if the costs continue to mount, she said.

If there are further storms that require significant cleanup costs, they'll have to scrounge the money away from elsewhere in the budget, she said.

"We're gonna have to pull up our bootstraps," she said.

Gross said the city hopes to receive from money from the state government and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency to help with these costs. The state also issued a disaster declaration because of the storm; the city also issued one Saturday, so that could make it eligible to receive funding relief.

— Reach Sean Cotter