LEICESTER, Mass. – State Rep. John J. Binienda (D-Worcester) is hoping that the winter’s aggressive snowfall will help build support for his proposal to create a fund to mitigate municipalities’ snow-removal costs.
“The state’s been buried in 30 inches of snow and we’re still not through February yet,” said Binienda. “I think the mildness of last winter made the proposal irrelevant to a certain extent, but cities and towns could certainly use it this winter. \Smaller localities really struggle funding snow removal without having to cut into other areas of their budget.”
The proposal, 'H. 181, An Act aiding cities and towns' snow and ice removal', would establish the “Snow Bank Lottery Fund”, which would serve as a reserve account that localities could access to supplement a deficiency in their snow-removal budgets.
The fund would be financed from revenues generated by a “Snow Bank” two-dollar scratch ticket, which would be issued by the lottery under this bill.
The state comptroller would be responsible for reviewing municipalities’ requests for funding should they incur a deficit.
Snow removal is the only area of the budget that the state will permit a municipality to “deficit spend,” allowing them to spend more than is budgeted for that year. Currently there is no dedicated revenue source for municipal snow and ice removal other than what local officials allocate in advance for the upcoming winter.
“It’s a guessing game for cities and towns,” Binienda added. “Even meteorologists get it wrong sometimes.”
The bill has been referred the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure but a hearing has yet to be scheduled.