AYER -- Snow removal funds are gradually drying up after workers battled multiple snow and ice storms so far this winter season.

"It seems like this winter we've had more ice events where we have to go out and sand the roads," said Department of Public Works Director Mark Wetzel. During the New Year's storm, some employees worked on the highway for 36 straight hours, he said.

The department has spent about $160,000 for snow removal, roughly 80 percent of the money budgeted for cleaning up roads after winter storms.

In mid-January, workers were going out just about every night to put salt down on the roads, Wetzel said, and the snowstorm on Jan. 18 caught the department by surprise.

"It seems every year's a little different," he said. "Obviously, last year we didn't have a lot of snow until after the first of the year."

But plowing might be even tougher next year if roads from new subdivisions such as Pingry Hill are accepted as town roads the department must maintain.

"Depending on how many more streets in these new subdivisions get accepted, we may have to get a contractor to plow those areas because the number of miles and streets as it increases just gets harder to keep up with," Wetzel said.

The department receives funding from the state to maintain and pave roads that the town officially accepts. This year, the department will submit a few more miles of road for acceptance.

"If we're maintaining the roads, we want to make sure we're getting Chapter 90 money related to those roads," Wetzel said.

The department is also requesting a new town engineer position, adding $70,000 to the salary budget for fiscal 2015, according to a draft fiscal 2015 budget given to the Finance Committee.

With five more months until the end of the fiscal year, the department has spent about 53 percent of its operating budget. FinCom will review the department's proposed 2015 budget in February.

-- Amelia Pak-Harvey