Economic Impact of Mild Winter — Good for Towns, Bad for Businesses

By Desiree Taylor

The fourth mildest winter in New Jersey since 1895 has had a positive effect on some municipal budgets. Vernon Township’s Administrator, Gerald Giaimis expects the township’s snow removal budget will end up with a surplus. That’s because so far this year the township has only spent about $80,000 of it’s $250,000 budget allocated for snow removal and related costs. The surplus can be carried over to next year. So the township will be well prepared for whatever mother nature brings next winter.

State officials paint a similar picture. As of February 8, the New Jersey Department of Transportation had spent about 15 million dollars for salting, maintenance workers salaries, and other related costs. Last year, the total was about $56 million.

But the above-average temperatures this winter has had a chilling effect on some businesses. Ron Williams, the owner of McAfee Hardware in Vernon, says sales of shovels, ice picks, salt, and other winter-related products are down. Other retailers in the area have taken a hit. Kevin Whitehead, the owner of Outkast Sports in Vernon, says sales are down 40 percent. But he hopes to make up for the losses by selling warm weather sports equipment like skateboards.

New Jersey’s ski resorts seem to have weathered the winter fairly well. Bill Benneyan, Director of Marketing at Mountain Creek, says there were enough cool evenings this season to make snow and keep most trails open. And sales of seasonal passes sales remained strong. The skiing and snowboarding season at Mountain Creek ends this weekend.