City Comptroller Scott Stringer is out with a report on how much it actually costs the city to clear the streets of snow. He says the old rule of thumb -- that it costs a million dollars for every inch of snow that falls - is not accurate. NY1's Rocco Vertuccio filed the following report.

Cleaning the city streets of snow comes with a price.

A report from the city comptroller Thursday shows the city spent more than $660 million on snow removal over the past 12 years. That's money for manpower, plows, salt , overtime and contract workers.

The year with the lowest price per inch was 2003 when the city spent $740,000 on every inch of snow. That year we got 55 inches. The highest was 2012 when the city spent $4.4 million an inch. That year the city received only seven inches.

The comptroller's report found costs can be greater in years with little snow because the city prepares regardless of how much snow actually falls. A dusting can be pricier than a blizzard.

"When blizzards come, they come hard and either way, whether it's a small amount of snow or a lot of snow, the city's gonna pay a lot of money," Stringer said.

Just this week, the city prepared for feet of snow and got inches instead. Stringer says because of public safety it was the right approach. Despite the cost, some New Yorkers agree.

"It's better being safe than sorry,' said one Queens resident.

The city actually gets the most bang for its snow removal buck during an average snowfall of about 40 inches. So far this season we've received 15 and a half inches.

Stringer hopes his report will help guide the city when it budgets for snow removal. 

The Sanitation Department has always said the $1 million an inch calculation was just a rough guess. 

The agency said in response to the report that because forecasts can change the city is often over prepared.