$1.4M saved on streetlights; $300,000 deficit still expected.


Byline: Nick Kotsopoulos

WORCESTER - The city has saved nearly $1.4 million annually since taking over the ownership and management of the streetlight system from National Grid in July 2010.

But even with those savings, the city is projecting a $300,000 deficit in the streetlight account this fiscal year.

Robert L. Moylan Jr., commissioner of public works and parks, said the deficit is largely attributed to the underestimation of emergency work, including underground excavation for road and utility projects.

"With little history to guide us, our bid documents reflected our best judgment on the number of emergencies the contractor would likely encounter or the number of locations where digging would be needed," Mr. Moylan said. "As it turned out, in most instances, our best judgment was low.

"Although we are projecting a deficit in the streetlight account, one must keep in mind, that even with this projected deficit, the streetlight account is just under $1.4 million less than what it would have been if National Grid was still maintaining the system."

During a fiscal squeeze in 2009, the city was facing the prospect of having to shut off about 6,100 streetlights, or roughly 50 percent of the 12,839 streetlights.

As an alternative, the city purchased the streetlight system from National Grid in July 2010. The price tag was $474,000.

The city then hired Wilmington Wiring to maintain the system. This fiscal year, Wilmington Wire is being paid $787,083 for that work; next fiscal year the amount is expected to increase to $1.3 million.

By acquiring the streetlight system, the city did not have to shut off any lights.

"There should be no doubt...

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