Snowstorm cleanup has cost the city almost $400,000 so far

The city has spent almost $400,000 on snow removal from the blizzard of Feb. 8 and 9, with the possibility that total may increase as more outside bills come in.

On Thursday night, the Board of Aldermen approved allocating $354,500 from surplus funds to pay the tab. There already was $40,000 available, for a total of $394,400.

“We expect that we’re going to get more bills,” said Alderman John F. Anglace Jr., board president.

The total includes more than $347,000 spent on outside contractors, with about 95% of them being from Shelton, according to Anglace.

Varying rates to vendors

Alderman Jack Finn asked about the varying rates being paid to contractors for backhoes and bucket loaders, ranging from $150 an hour to $250 an hour (Editor's note: An earlier version of this article had incorrectly stated Finn said up to $450; we regret the error).

“Is there a formula that we use?” Finn said.

Anglace said state bid rates were used a benchmark when applicable, but the city essentially had to pay the going rates at the time because of the urgent need to clear the roads. “We needed the services,” he said.

George Stachowicz, Shelton highway maintenance supervisor, said the rates varied depending on the size of the machines provided by contractors. He said the state bid rates were used as a basis, with some limited deviations.

“It’s not a perfect system but it was close,” Stachowicz said of outside payments for snow removal.

Anglace said a special meeting will be held in the near future to pay additional storm-related bills if they should come in. It was decided to approve what already has been received to ensure vendors were paid on a timely basis, he said.

Heavy equipment was needed

Outside contractors were used much more than usual during the recent blizzard due to the amount of snow that fell, with accumulations of three feet or more  throughout Shelton.

Plows simply couldn’t move the snow on many streets due to the sheer volume and impact of drifting.

This meant that large pieces of equipment — such as backhoes and bucket loaders (also called payloaders) — were needed from outside vendors, who were in heavy demand at the time from the state and other towns and cities.