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More snow woes for Preston

By Claire Bessette

Publication: The Day

Published February 22. 2014 4:00AM
Town expected to be $50,000 over budget; new plow truck is needed

Preston - Budgets that cover snow plowing, salting and sanding the town's 57 miles of roads are expected to be about $50,000 in the red by the time winter ends, and the town is in the market for a new plow truck after the engine of a 15-year-old truck blew in January.

First Selectman Robert Congdon will ask the Board of Finance Monday for an immediate appropriation of $20,000 "so we can pay our bills," Congdon told the Board of Selectmen Thursday. The town has outstanding bills for salt, sand and contractors hired to help plow roads.

Other costs include overtime for town drivers and the contractors, meals for drivers and other miscellaneous costs. Congdon said he would wait until near the end of the fiscal year to have a better idea of the final figures before asking for additional appropriations. By then, town officials will know whether other accounts will be underspent and money can be moved into the public works budget to cover the snow removal costs.

The town normally hires two regular contractors for snow removal and calls in additional crews as needed.

The town is now short one plow truck due to the engine problem. Voters last spring approved a five-year capital budget that included $90,000 to replace that truck in the upcoming 2014-15 fiscal year. That amount is far below the expected $150,000 to $160,000 total cost of the truck, because town officials had planned to sell the old truck to cover part of the cost.

Now, that truck has little value, so Congdon will recommend the town keep it for parts for a second, identical 15-year-old truck the town could use as a spare plow in the future.

Also Monday, Congdon will ask the Board of Finance to request a town meeting to buy a new plow truck using the $90,000 already in the capital budget and taking the rest of the funds from the town's capital nonrecurring account - which contains the money left over when capital purchases are lower than expected. That account now has about $190,000, Congdon said.

If the finance board approves the plan, the Board of Selectmen can schedule a town meeting Thursday on the purchase. The Board of Finance meets at 7 p.m. Monday at Town Hall.

If the process is approved by voters, the town would participate in a state bid through the Department of Administrative Services for the plow truck.

"No matter what we did, there's no way we would have it in time for this year's snow removal," Congdon said.

c.bessette@theday.com

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