Their snow removal budget depleted by two months of unusually harsh weather, city public works officials had to seek supplementary funding to keep the streets safe during last week's storms.
The $50,000 transfer from the city manager's contingency fund is in addition to $175,000 budgeted by the city council for snow removal.
The amount appropriated for snow removal and sanding this year was no less than in previous years, Everett Kennedy, assistant director of the city's Department of Public Works, said, but he added, "We finally had a winter that caught up with us."
Normally the Boston area receives about 44 inches of snow a year. "This year we've already had close to 30 inches, and it has fallen in relatively large quantities. The bulk of the budget, for example, was used for the first snowfall," Kennedy said.
That first snowfall--on the weekend of December 6--dumped 16 inches on the Boston area and forced the department to contract with private snow removal companies, Kennedy added.
"We can normally handle eight to 12 inches of snow, but for that first snowfall we had to bring in 40 pieces of contract equipment," Kennedy said.
Employing those private contractors cost the city an average of $80 per hour, Kennedy said, adding, "Approximately 25 to 35 per cent of the budget went out to those private firms."
Although there has been no snow this week, "the department has run a continual, day and night, sanding operation to keep the roads free from ice," Kennedy added.
Although the department received the additional money from the reserve fund the city has set aside, normally, "they would be expected to transfer funds from other parts of their budget," David E. Holland, a city budget analyst, said yesterday.
He added, though, that since the department's budget was already so "tight" because of cutbacks forced by Proposition 2 1/2, the city council and the city manager decided to approve the Department's request for more money.