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A Mild Start to Snow Season for Braintree

Saturday night's storm was Braintree's first real snow of the year, and didn't cause much damage.

The few inches of snow that coated Braintree by Sunday morning was the first major accumulation of the winter, but brought only minor impacts to town.

"It wasn't the challenge that was anticipated," Chief of Staff and Operations Peter Morin said on Monday.

Braintree's plows and other equipment were primed ahead of the season and ready to battle the snow and ice on Saturday night, Morin said. Yet in the end, the first serious snowstorm to hit the town in nearly two years was mostly benign.

There were no major power outages and only one serious accident, in which an alleged drunk driver drove his vehicle into a home on Franklin Street. The house and driver sustained minor injuries.

Braintree's snow and ice budget this year is $350,000, Morin said, and has increased steadily over the last few years as the town looks to reach the level it would cost to fund an average snow season.

Last year, with a $300,000 budget, the town barely spent money at all, mostly on seasonal preparation like bulk purchasing of sand and equipment repairs.

During the 2010-2011 season, Braintree went $1 million over budget when storm after storm slammed Massachusetts.

Snow budgets are unique among municipal finances in that they are an area in which towns are allowed to regularly go beyond planned spending because of the uncertainty of weather. That, combined with a state law that says a town may not budget less for snow than it did the year before, means that base budgets are typically set lower than expenses.

Morin said on Monday morning that he did not have exact numbers on how much Saturday's storm cost, but that similar storms range from $50,000 to $100,000.

Those costs, along with this season's preparations, leaves Braintree with about $200,000 left in its snow and ice account following this weekend's storm.

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