By CHRIS EBERHART
Harrison’s town budget continues to feel the effects of the barrage of snowstorms from this past winter.
A snow season that has seen record snowfall in areas of lower Westchester and New York City has created 10-to-15-hour work days for Harrison’s highway crew as they plow and salt the town’s streets and remove the mounds of leftover snow.
Harrison Mayor Ron Belmont, a Republican, said the cleanup from the previous snowstorms has finally concluded, but so far this year it has cost the town $215,000 in overtime for snow removal, which is $15,000 over the allotted snow removal overtime budget.
To make up the deficit, Harrison’s commissioner of Public Works, Anthony Robinson, requested a $50,000 addition to the overtime snow budget, which was passed in a unanimous vote during the March 6 council meeting.
The $50,000 transfer was reallocated from the highway fund balance, which currently has a balance of $845,672 as of 2012, to the overtime snow removal budget, which provides the town with $35,000 to plow the streets after a possible snowstorm throughout the remainder of the entire year, including November and December.
Harrison Comptroller Maureen MacKenzie said the town won’t have an updated number for the highway fund balance until the end of March, when the auditors report is finished but she said she’s expecting to add a substantial amount to that number for 2013 as a result of approximately $700,000 that was received in 2013 from FEMA for Hurricane Sandy aid.
The $35,000 transferred will fund any overtime needed to clear the streets after future snowstorms from now until the end of the year. MacKenzie admitted that might not be enough to cover the rest of the year and said she “may have to go back to the board for additional funds.”
Belmont described this past winter through his observations by saying, “This was the worst winter I’ve ever seen. We were breaking records all over the place.”
MacKenzie described this past winter by putting the season’s expenditures into context.
In 2012 and 2013, MacKenzie said Harrison spent $51,515 and $198,261, respectively, for overtime snow removal as compared to the $215,000 overtime expenditure this year, which doesn’t even include the rest of the year or even next winter come November and December.
As for Harrison’s salt costs, the town spent $258,450 of its $300,000 salt budget so far this year, which compares to $92,462 and $257,595 in 2012 and 2013, respectively.
Originally, the Town Council agenda included an item for a $100,000 transfer to the salt budget from the highway fund, but Belmont said that request was withdrawn because the town still has ample salt left in storage.
According to Robinson, there’s currently enough salt in the storage for “a couple of small storm events” and the town is currently waiting on a 2,000-ton shipment.
Although snow removal efforts have concluded for the moment, potholes remain causing significant damage to vehicles.
A representative from Adelphi Auto Works on Grant Avenue in Harrison said the auto body shop has fixed between 15 and 20 cars with damage ranging from blown-out tires to cars that have lost control because of a pothole and crashed.
Belmont said the highway crews have “been out there every day and every weekend” filling the cracks in the streets.
As of now, he said there is no estimate to how much the patchwork will cost.
Robinson did not return calls for comment as of press time.