$1.12M borrowing sought to clean ice storm debris.


Byline: Nick Kotsopoulos

WORCESTER - City Manager Michael V. O'Brien is asking the City Council to authorize borrowing $1.12 million for the city's share of storm debris cleanup costs associated with December's ice storm.

Robert L. Moylan Jr., commissioner of public works and parks, said the city's share represents 25 percent of the total cleanup costs. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is picking up the tab for the other 75 percent.

Mr. Moylan said the project cost has grown to more than three times previous projections. All the labor will be paid in conformance with the prevailing wage.

"This estimate is an increase of threefold over the original estimate of $418,610," the commissioner wrote in a report that goes before the City Council tonight.

Because the city does not have money in this year's municipal budget to finance the cleanup, Mr. O'Brien said the city will have to pay for it through a loan order.

He said communities are allowed under state law to borrow on a short-term basis of up to two years to cover costs associated with a "sudden, unavoidable event or series of events" that could not have been foreseen or anticipated at the time the budget was approved.

"Clearly, the ice storm was an unanticipated and unavoidable event," Mr. O'Brien said. "The expense and the magnitude of the cleanup could not have been incorporated into the fiscal year 2009 budget when approved last spring."

More than 130,000 cubic yards of tree debris and limbs were collected in the weeks after the ice storm. Most of that debris came from trees along city streets and on private property that had fallen into public ways.

At that time, the city also made a commitment to assist property owners in their cleanup efforts. Residents were encouraged to pile tree debris and limbs from their property on their front lawns so it could be collected by the city this spring.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has estimated 83,722 cubic yards of wood debris remains to be picked up in the northern part of the city, based on a survey done by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. That is defined as areas north...

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