Road work

Legislators put differences aside, agree on road repair bonding

By ANNEMARIE SCHUETZ
Posted 1/6/21

MONTICELLO, NY — The road money is settled.

One of the lingering issues from the December 10, 2020 budget vote was bonding for road repairs. But a compromise thrashed out on December 17 …

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Road work

Legislators put differences aside, agree on road repair bonding

Posted

MONTICELLO, NY — The road money is settled.

One of the lingering issues from the December 10, 2020 budget vote was bonding for road repairs. But a compromise thrashed out on December 17 settled the issue, ensuring $3.75 million in bonds for road repairs. 

The week before, at the special meeting to approve the budget, a $3.75 million bond resolution was proposed. An amendment had been added to the resolution, setting aside a $750,000 in reserve, to be taken from the overall road money, in case state Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS) funding didn’t come through. The resolution failed, 5-4, according to the minutes.

But roads need to be fixed. On December 17, two bond resolutions appeared, one set at $4 million and the other with a revised amendment, creating a $520,000 reserve fund. 

Legislator Joe Perrello, an advocate of $4 million in bonds, put it back up. “This is for our kids. It’s for the community, it’s for the people that pay taxes in this county and it’s for the safety of the roads.” That resolution failed, 5-3; it needed six votes to pass. (Legislator George Conklin was absent.)

The $3.75 million was a compromise, Alan Sorensen said as he agreed with Perrello. “We need to maintain the roads; it’s not different than having a house. You’ve got to maintain the roof.” 

Ira Steingart moved to amend the last sentence and get rid of the reserve fund, which, as legislator Nadia Rajsz said, meant that all the road money would go toward the roads.

“If we don’t vote for this one, we get absolutely nothing [for roads this year],” legislator Luis Alvarez clarified.

Discussion ensued over the amount of money needed and the concern over debt. Legislator Nick Salomone reiterated his support for the $3.75 million with the reserve fund, and legislator Mike Brooks agreed. What funds are included in the overall revenue available? Chairman Rob Doherty asserted that with a $3.2 million bond, even leaving out other road-related projects (like the East Broadway work), more money would still be available for roads than the previous year. More roads could be prepared for paving the following year.

“Unfortunately, this is a political issue,” said Steingart. “And I’m pleading with my peers. I think all of us have to dig down and do something we’re not comfortable with, but for the betterment of the county, agree to the $3.75 million, because the only thing we’re going to lose is every one of our constituents.”  

A roll call vote was held. Legislator after legislator voted yes for the amendment (the $3.75 million without the reserve fund). Brooks hesitated. “I just want to be clear, if I vote for this, we already have $8.7 million bonded... that we’re on the hook for. Going forward, this is not the way to do this. There needs to be a better way to deal with our roads than bonding, bonding, bonding. But to go along, get along, I’ll say yes.” 

The amendment passed.

Another roll call vote was held, for the resolution as amended. It, too, passed, 8-0.

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