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New Canaan Saves Cash on Plowing in Mild Winter

NEW CANAAN, Conn. – Mike Pastore is enjoying this mild winter, one of the warmest in recent history. As temperatures reach into the 50s this week, the town’s public works director smiles.

“We deserve it. Last year was brutal,” Pastore said. Unlike last winter, the orange highway department plow trucks have spent more time in the garage this year, and public works crews haven’t had to tackle as much white stuff.

The Public Works Department received $360,000 in the 2011-12 budget to pay for road maintenance, which covers such items as road-clearing solution and cold patching for potholes that pop up after freezing and thawing. Through Feb. 21, the department had about $115,000 left. In an ordinary winter, Pastore says he usually has about $30,000 to $50,000 left through mid-February.

At this time last year, Pastore and other employees were busy dealing with harsh winter storms. Snow and ice from the first few months of 2011 left town streets in need of drying solutions and cold-patching. The frequency of winter storms last year forced Pastore to request a $250,000 special appropriation last February to pay for road solution, overtime pay for public works employees and assistance from outside contractors.

With this February nearly over, Pastore does not plan to ask for more funding. “We’ll still use some of (the remaining money), but we’re in pretty good shape,” he said. The department will likely buy more of the de-icing solution so the department is fully stocked for next winter. Road money normally reserved for snow treatment will be spent on other necessary projects, said Highway Department Superintendent Mose Saccary. Any surplus funds will go back to the town June 30, the end of the fiscal year.

“Unless we get a tremendously bad March, we shouldn’t have to go for more money,” he said. “We’ll be under the budget by some dollars.”

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