The timing of New Jersey's first notable snow event couldn't be worse for travelers, but it's also bad news for towns and mayors across the state.

Ian Forsyth, Getty Images

Each municipality, in some way, sets aside money to deal with snow/ice prep and cleanup, but the last thing they want is a storm of several inches on the day before Thanksgiving. It means an early start to winter, as well as additional personnel costs due to holiday rates.

"We're looking at potentially a very big number for each municipality to be able to assume within their budget," said Bill Dressel, executive director of the New Jersey State League of Municipalities. "It could be quite costly, and it's going to be something that each town is going to have to grapple with individually."

Dressel said this Thanksgiving may become a "white-knuckle holiday," with mayors and other public officials focused on keeping the roads clear, instead of preparing dinner.

The storm could drop more than a half-foot of snow in spots by Wednesday night.

Dressel noted New Jersey towns don't let their snow budgets get in the way of public safety. Dollars are secondary, and the priority is clearing the town of hazards.

"You accomplish the mission at hand. Then you worry about how you're going to be able to pay for it," he said.

If towns go over their budgets for winter management, which happens regularly, they may be forced to reach into the pockets of other departments to recoup the costs.