Although it is still too early to know how much Winter Storm Jonas is going to cost the Big Apple — with a record 26.8 inches of snowfall — one report shows that last year the city spent more than $2 million per inch to remove snow and ice.
City Comptroller Scott Stringer released his report “The Slippery Cost Slope of Ice and Snow Removal in New York City” late Monday where he detailed the cost of snow and ice removal for the city in the last 13 years.
According to the report, in 2015 it cost the city $2.5 million per inch to clear 47.5 inches of snow and ice — the third highest over more than a decade.
From Fiscal Year 2003 to 2015 the average cost per-inch to remove snow and ice was $1.9 million.
“Removing snow can be a budgetary blizzard with costs that can reach into the millions on a per inch basis,” Comptroller Stringer said. “Last year the cost per inch to plow snow and ice was higher than average, but a lot goes into making sure our streets are clear — from salt stockpiles to personnel costs to the number of inches of snow that falls.”
During the 13-year time period, which in total saw an average annual cost of $60 million, the lowest annual cost was $25.4 million in 2008 and the highest was $130.7 million in 2014.
Each year there is a budgeted amount the city puts forth to deal with costs for ice and snow removal, this number is based on the average amount spent in the preceding five fiscal years. The amount includes personal services cost for overtime and for work done on Sundays and holidays — excluding regular salaries and wages.
Even though there is a budget set, it is rarely the amount actually used when it comes to snow and ice removal, according to the report. The budget is normally updated to match actual expenses.
The city also acquires “Other than Personal Services” costs — such as general supplies, materials and outside contracting for snow removal services. In 2011 the city spent $48.9 million to clear 61.5 inches of ice and snow through the fiscal year and the lowest number was $14.3 million in the 2008 fiscal year.
Also, although the city’s expenses for the removal caries depending on snowfall amounts, costs can still be acquired even with little to no snowfall. This includes pre-salting and the mobilization of the Department of Sanitation’s crews and equipment based on weather forecast.
Between 2003 to 2014, annual snowfall totals were an average of 35.9 inches per year, with the high in 2011 of 61.5 inches and a low of 6.8 inches in 2012.