As Mayor Peter Kelly sat at his desk Thursday, gazing out the window, he saw money falling from the sky.
But not in a good way.
No, all he could think of was the cost to remove all that snow, and how little cash HRM has left to do it with.
“Every time I see a plow go by, it’s just more money,” he said wistfully.
Earlier this week HRM staff told Metro News the city had burnt through its entire snow removal budget. Kelly said that was a mistake, and there’s actually about $2.5 million left. There’s also a $1.5 million reserve.
That seems like a lot, but the last snowfall at the beginning of the month cost about $1.8 million to get rid of all of the snow. An average snowfall could cost up to $1 million.
As to what happens when the money runs out, Kelly said it’ll have to be cut from other departments. Last year snow removal spending was $8 million over budget, and that’s not looking impossible this time around.
Kelly said the government will look at cutting down “inefficiencies” and things like not filling vacant positions to try to save some money. He said under no circumstances will the plows stop.
But he said he expects the budget to be ramped up next year to better handle the winter workload.
“Before these last two years, we were getting less snow. Now here we are in the last few years we seem to be getting more snow. So we need to be more (respectful) of reality,” he said.
Thursday’s snowfall was particularly bad in that it hit during the day. Malls, all city facilities and almost everything else were closed for the evening.
In case you’re wondering, spring comes in 31 days.