November 18, 2011
Legislators OK borrowing $17M for culvert, road work
Construction will start next year
Cortland County legislators approved bonding Thursday for up to $17 million in culvert and bridge repairs that is scheduled to be done over the next 10 years and paid off over the next 40 years.
The vote was 15-4, with Legislators Tom Hartnett (D-4th Ward), Susan Briggs (R-Cortlandville), Newell Willcox (R-Homer) and Gene Waldbauer (R-Cortlandville) opposed.
Construction would start in 2012. Bond payments would begin in 2013. The borrowing will cost the county $30 million over the life of the four bonds expected to be issued.
Legislators voting in favor of the work Thursday cited the pressing need in the community to address failing structures and deteriorating infrastructure.
Kathie Arnold (D-Cuyler, Solon and Truxton) said some bridges in the county will have to be closed if they are not repaired. For the safety of the traveling public, Arnold favored bonding for the repairs.
Mike Park (R-Homer) noted the roads are traveled on by large vehicles and used predominately for agriculture purposes.
“Roads are getting to be impassable and the majority of culverts were built in the early ’30s,” Park said, adding the failing infrastructure needs to be addressed.
Sandy Price (D-Harford and Virgil) lauded Highway Superintendent Don Chambers’ 10-year plan to address the needs of roads, bridges and culverts.
Price said the repairs are needed and urged the public to look at the detailed plan to address the structures.
The bonds would be paid off incrementally over the years.
The bridge and culvert projects are expected to total $17 million and the balance of the $30 million will cover the interest.
Debt payments would start in 2013 when the county would pay $101,000, a cost that would increase by about $100,000 annually for 10 years.
Then payments would hold steady at a little over $1 million until year 2022, the 10th year, when payments would start to decline.
Under the payment plan, the county would borrow about $1.6 million annually except in 2013 when $2.6 million would be borrowed to include funding for the Little York Dam replacement.
Some officials and members of the public called for the Little York Dam replacement to be removed from the project. Cortlandville resident Michael Barylski urged legislators to instead make Little York Lake homeowners share the burden of funding the replacement project.
Briggs agreed, refusing to support the proposal with the Little York Dam replacement included. Instead, Briggs suggested forming a special tax district comprised of Little York Lake residents, which would pay about half the costs of the replacement, with the county funding the rest.
County Administrator Martin Murphy stressed that the resolution only authorizes the county to bond up to $17 million, but the county does not have to commit to the full amount.
Each project would come to the Legislature for ultimate approval, he said.
Hartnett said he could not support the plan to bond because it is just “too much.”
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