SOUTH KINGSTOWN - Since the first snow hit South Kingstown in December, the area has been visited by the expensive white precipitation on almost a weekly basis. According to professional snow spotters in the region, 21 inches of snow have fallen on South Kingstown roads and sidewalks this year alone.
Director of Public Services Jon Schock estimates that the $211,000 that is budgeted for snow removal every year will have been completely spent by the weekend.
“I assume with the storm today we will probably expend the balance of the budget,” said Schock on Monday. “But we have reserve funding that we can use if we go over.”
As of Jan. 31, 86 percent (or $182,000) had already been spent sanding, salting and plowing the roads in South Kingstown, which brings the cost per inch to $8,666. Just the four inches that are expected to fall on the region this week will force the town to use $5,000 of reserve funding.
“We have reserve funding from prior years when we had a surplus,” said Schock. “We also have a fund in the highway budget for replacing sidewalks every year. In a case like this when it looks like we are going to go over budget, we can use some of those funds for snow removal.”
No matter what happens to the budget, reserve funding or general fund, the town promises it will continue to plow, sand and salt the roads without any drop in quality or frequency.
“We have to maintain the level of service that we always do regardless,” said Schock. “We do not compromise our response as far as sanding, salting or plowing - we have to carry on. It’s a public safety issue.”
While the town may eventually have to start worrying about funding the constant snow and its subsequent removal, the public can rest easy knowing that the town will do its best to keep the roads clean and safe.
Schock sums it up quickly, “We’re still gonna plow.”