Kentville to dip into reserves for nor’easter cleanup

Kirk Starratt
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The Town of Kentville has exceeded its snow removal budget for 2013-2014 and will have to access reserve funding to pay for the cleanup from the March 26 blizzard.

Kentville's mayor says he is always concerned when the year’s snow removal budget has been exceeded.  However, Kentville Mayor Dave Corkum said the town uses a five-year average when budgeting, so even when there is an exceptionally rough winter such as this year, it tends to even out over time.

“We plan for these things,” Corkum said. “We have reserves to cover that.”

Although the budget might be exceeded one year, there are others when snow removal comes in under budget. Corkum said savings are used to maintain the reserve in this scenario.

The town spent as much for snow removal to the end of December this fiscal year as it did for the entire winter last year. Corkum said the town had a small deficit for snow removal before the March 26 nor’easter. He estimated the storm, expected to bring as much as 30 centimetres of snow, could end up costing Kentville between $10,000 and $30,000.

“This is not a surprise,” Corkum said. “It’s a disappointment, but not a surprise.”

Engineering and public works director Fred Whynot said the town’s snow removal budget was $252,000 for 2013-2014. Prior to the March 26 storm, the department as over by about 10 per cent. However, he concurred that the town maintains a snow removal reserve, based on a five year average, in case of an above average year.

He said the town has lots of salt and had plenty of warning about the storm, which allowed public works to prepare.

“Our usual level of service will not be reduced because of storms or budget,” Whynot said. “Public safety comes first.”

He said his department has the “usual plans” for cleaning up from the March 26 storm.  Vehicles are serviced, a generator is in place, salt and parts inventories are ready, road right of ways have been checked for obstacles that might impair snow removal and coordination and contingency plans with snow removal contractors are in place.

He said Kentville’s snow removal and water utility crew have from between five to just over 25 years experience as town employees.  The storm is nothing new to them.

“If the travelling public do not need to be out though, we would appreciate it if they would stay at home as we do our work, as visibility isn't great,” Whynot said. “Our priority will be main routes for emergency services.”

Corkum said the town works closely with County of Kings manager of protective services Brian Desloges. The Regional Emergency Management Organization is “all set up and ready to go” if emergency shelters are required in the event of a prolonged power outage from the March 26 storm.

Whynot reminds residents that the general rule of thumb is to be prepared with enough supplies for 72 hours.

 

Organizations: Protective Services Brian Desloges, Regional Emergency Management Organization

Geographic location: Kentville

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