After suffering a 95% cut in funds from Highway User Revenues -the funds that counties use to clear roads during snowstorms-this weekends’ forecast of 18-24 inches should have a devastating affect on county road budgets.
As reported in today’s Washington Post:
Many local governments say they were counting on that money to help cover plowing costs, which have already obliterated many municipal spending plans. In Southern Maryland, for example, Charles County budgeted $350,000 for the year and spent more than $1.2 million by the end of December. As a rule of thumb, every inch of precipitation over the weekend will cost the county an additional $60,000. In La Plata (Pop. 8,400) the same story: the town budgeted $10,000 for the year; spent nearly $50,000 in December, and is still spending.
Part of the problem, of course, is that large or small, no government has a choice when it comes to paying almost whatever it takes for snow removal. Plowing streets offers no more visible sign of tax dollars at work. And when they are not cleaned, and the dangers of accidents multiply, there are few government failures that elicit a more visceral response from voters.