With Wilton's budget exceeded, snow removal will continue

Chris Litwin, a senior mechanic with the Department of Public Works, was outside the town auto shop helping driver Roger Vibbert fix his truck’s plow during Tuesday morning’s snowstorm. While hurrying to get the truck up and running, he looked up to say this year’s winter had been especially “crazy.” 

With 12 snowstorms having hit town already this season, Wilton has exceeded its expected snow removal budget, First Selectman Bill Brennan said by phone Tuesday.

The town is currently $35,850 over its snow budget, he said.

The cost of the additional salt, sand and overtime needed this winter has contributed to the overage, Mr. Brennan said.

“We traditionally budget for the year using an estimate based on the average cost of past winters’ [snow removal,]” he said. “We’ve had 12 storms this winter, and when you have storms they don’t always occur during business hours. We have to pay overtime as part of our labor negotiations.”

Equipment failure, he said, also added to the problem.

“We had one older truck where we had a transmission problem, so we were short on trucks. We had our fair share of additional expenses this year,” he said.

The first selectman stressed, however, that the town would keep its snow removal services operating properly.

“This doesn’t mean we don’t have the funds to keep operating,” he said. “The budget is an estimate based on a lot of factors. We will continue to plow to keep the roads safe. We have contingency funds to cover the additional costs.”

He also applauded public works employees for helping keep roads at the best condition possible.

“Our guys are called out as soon as police patrols see any sign of snow endangering the roads. They are usually on standby when we know a storm is coming in, and, frankly, they do a terrific job handling an awful lot,” he said.

Now, he said, the town’s biggest predicament is finding a place to store excess snow after the storm.

Mailboxes

Residents whose mailboxes are damaged by snow removal may contact the Department of Public Works for a free replacement.

Any damaged mailbox will be replaced with a standard “Home Depot variety” mailbox, Mr. Brennan said. “We’re not talking about a $300 decorative mailbox,” he added.