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      Potential blizzard could 'bust' town budgets

      In these difficult fiscal times, many cities and towns are dealing with a "budget blizzard", but add that to the actual blizzard that may be heading our way, and some local policy makers are worried.

      It's the municipalities around that state that have to foot the bill for storm clean-up, and the prospect of having to pay for a "big one" isn't appealing to any city and town leaders.

      As it is, Wednesday night was a difficult time for seniors, and Town Council members in West Warwick.

      Frustrated seniors met in the high school auditorium to discuss new pension cuts, and unexpected changes to their health care plans with the West Warwick Town Council.

      And while the winds of change are blowing where benefits are for seniors are concerned, the storm brewing off to our West could potentially tax out city and town budgets even further if Rhode Island Takes a direct hit.

      West Warwick Town Manager Michael Stampfler says he's hoping for "a miss."

      "The budget is a tight budget. This is a distressed community, as most people know around this area, so if we can dodge the bullet, and the snow goes elsewhere, that's the best plan," Stampfler said.

      But the town council president admits, the situation could actually be a lot worse.

      "We're well ahead of the snow budget due to the lack of snow storms that we've had this year. And we are prepared for the 10 to 20 inches," West Warwick Town Council President David Gosselin, Jr. said.

      He went on to say, "The last two years, the weather has been very well to us as far as snow storms."

      But here in Rhode Island, that's not always the case.

      Much to the delight of children, and snowplow drivers, other winters have tapped out snow removal budgets completely.

      But only time will tell what this storm will bring, for residents, and the bottom line.

      "I'm sure the DPW are getting ready for the storm, whatever we have to do to spend the money, and hopefully, it's not as severe as is being predicted, and we'll be OK," Stampfler said.

      "But there's nothing we can do about it either way." Gosselin said, "We'll clear every storm like we do every time, we'll just continue working from beginning, to end. Everything is going to be OK in West Warwick."

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