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Winter storms stretch town budgets

Although winter storms pack a wallop on residents and budgets alike, local town and county officials say they are prepared for the worst.

On the heels of an ice storm that struck Thursday, Dec. 11, Albany County was hit with several inches of snow the weekend of Friday, Dec. 19. The effects of the ice storm subsided only days before the snow cascaded down.

In the wake of those storms, the towns of Bethlehem and Guilderland are both paying for police and highway overtime, as well as debris removal and roadway clearing and maintenance.

But it's nothing that wasn't expected.

We've got the highway and police overtime to pay from January 2008 until now, said Bethlehem Supervisor Jack Cunningham. "Running out of salt was an issue last year because there was a shortage, but I haven't heard it was an issue this year."

Cunningham said the scarcity of salt last year caused the price to rise, but the problem then was not actually having enough to make it through the winter. Towns lock into prices for salt through state contracts, according to Cunningham.

"Even though we've been hit hard we plan for these kinds of storms," said Cunningham. As for remaining within the highway and police budgets for the year, Cunningham said, "I think we're pretty close."

Guilderland Highway Superintendent Todd Gifford said department employees racked up an average of 20 hours overtime for Friday, Dec. 19, through Sunday, Dec. 21, cleaning up after the storm.

There are 38 employees in the highway department.

"The winds continue to howl," Gifford said as clean-up efforts lingered. There were still three or four town vehicles on the road on Monday, Dec. 22, cleaning up the after effects.

He said the department allots for 100 hours of overtime each year, and it is just about at that threshold.

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