State funding would allow repairs for damage done in past two winters
BY MICHAEL RICONDA
NEW CITY – Over-encumbered by repair costs, Clarkstown officials have made a last-minute request in the final days of State budget talks: Directly contribute to road fixes and adjust the tax cap formula to accommodate them.
The two-part proposal calls for a partnership with the state to match any money municipalities spend on road paving and reconstruction, burdensome costs which spiked over the past two winters. The second part requests that such repairs not be factored into the state’s tax cap formula, allowing municipalities more room to spend without worrying about exceeding the state’s two percent limit and create jobs through roadwork.
“The winters of 2014 and 2015 have brought extraordinary costs to our Town and has seriously deteriorated our road infrastructure,” Gromack stated. “This proposed partnership with New York State will go a long way in the reconstruction of our roads and for the safety of our residents.”
Though Clarkstown usually spends $3 million per year on road repairs, Clarkstown officials announced that costs for the Winter of 2014-2015 have spiked to an estimated $7 to $8 million, which is more than the Town can comfortably budget.
The request is designed as a response to extenuating circumstances, a situation when the state could use extra funds to plug literal and figurative holes left by not only this year’s winter but also the last, some of which remains unaddressed. After the catch-up, the Town would go back to its normal road repair budget.
“This is kind of a one-shot deal,” Gromack explained. “It doesn’t mean you have to do this again and again.”
The request might not fall on deaf ears in Albany, either. According to Gromack, he learned through State Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski that though no set number had been decided for the next fiscal year’s local allocations, talk had been floated of increasing payouts for road fixes to address damage from the past two winters.
Officials on the county level have petitioned for state aid as well. County Executive Ed Day has also requested the state to use part of $5 billion in settlements to establish an “infrastructure bank” and direct funds toward municipalities seeking to repair or update damaged or aging infrastructure.
In the short-term, the County Highway Department has worked to reduce the impact of road damage this year with a new $74,000 asphalt recycler, which picks up and mills debris from damaged roads to produce fresh, hot asphalt.