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Winter Sure Can Be Taxing

Digging out of last year’s snow cost over $54 million; guess who paid?

April, when we pay our taxes, may be the cruelest month. But winter is the most expensive season. At least it was in 2009-10, when what we saved in autumnal hurricanes was lost in the avalanche of winter snow. 

In Maryland alone, last year’s record-setting snow cost American taxpayers $54,699,527.85 — yes, the fed counts down to pennies. That’s how much cash the Federal Emergency Management Agency has shoveled into Maryland to help dig out from under last winter’s budget-busting snow. 

Two blizzards — the first in December and the second in February — hit Maryland so hard that our snow-covered state twice begged President Barack Obama to issue disaster declarations. Those declarations cleared the way for federal assistance to our snow weary state. 

That blizzard of federal grant money fell on the state plus 837 counties, cities and non-profit organizations in Baltimore and 21 of Maryland’s 23 counties, including Anne Arundel, Calvert, Prince George’s, St. Mary’s, Charles, Howard, Baltimore, Queen Anne’s and Kent. 

“These funds provide financial relief to the impacted communities,” said Federal Coordinating Officer Regis Phelan. “They are critical in helping to restore funds spent responding to the snow disasters.”

Costs are being reimbursed in seven categories:

• Debris removal: $347,757.30;

• Protective measures: $52,762,413.48;

• Roads and bridges: $262,330.45;

• Public buildings: $557,750.31;

• Public utilities: $280,897.89;

• Recreational and others: $165,368.92; and

• Administrative costs $324,009.50.

FEMA pays 75 percent of eligible costs. The remaining 25 percent is paid with non-federal funds determined by the state.

The cash blizzard isn’t over yet; requests for funding are still being processed.

Who knows what blizzards 2010/’11 will bring? The National Weather Service says it’s either/or, with 50 percent odds on both a moderate winter and a harsh one.