$64 Million cost: roadway repairs
Story by Dan Hust
MONTICELLO December 13, 2013 With legislators anticipating a December 19 vote on the 2014 county budget, they mulled bonding millions in the new year for the 911 radio upgrade project and long-delayed repairs to county roadways.
Indeed, during last Tuesday’s Capital Planning and Budgeting Committee meeting, Public Works Commissioner Ed McAndrew estimated 35-40 miles of roads need full replacement, while another 170 miles need repaving.
The county paved about 14 miles this past year.
“We’re the equivalent of eight years behind right now,” McAndrew surmised. “... It is a big hole, to be honest, at this point.”
That’s a result of delayed projects due to rising blacktop and equipment costs, among other expenses. McAndrew said the county currently pays about $220,000 to pave a single mile, rising to $660,000 for a full rebuild of that same mile.
But undertaking all the needed roadwork would total $64 million far beyond the county’s ability, said legislators. (And that doesn’t include repair needs on county bridges, vehicles and facilities.)
So legislators are considering bonding up to $20 million worth of the road and radio projects to spread out the costs, which County Manager Josh Potosek said wouldn’t have to start being repaid until 2015’s budget.
Legislators are already looking at next year’s options, from raiding the landfill closure fund’s $6 million to instituting a tax dedicated to road/bridge/building repairs.
“You can’t keep on letting it go,” Ira Steingart said. “It’s only going to cost us more money.”
In the meantime, McAndrew is putting together a 2014 action plan for legislators to review next week.
“We’re juggling what we can do with the amount of money we have,” he affirmed.
Story by Dan Hust
MONTICELLO December 13, 2013 Sustainability consultants Carol Roig and Stephen Stuart introduced legislators last week to the Sullivan County Climate Action Plan’s ideas for going “greener.”
The goal is to reduce the use of fossil fuels and adapt to changing climate patterns, they said.
Currently, it’s estimated the county emits 8,674 metric tons per year in greenhouse gases, most of that from buildings and vehicles.
“Sullivan County’s total emissions are lower than other counties but per capita are just as high,” Roig explained.
“We believe the county can achieve some pretty ambitious goals ... basically on demand reduction,” Stuart added, aiming for at least a 50 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and a 30 percent reduction (translating to $630,000 less) in energy costs per year.
Short-term efforts could include heating/ventilation, window and lighting improvements to a variety of county facilities, plus phasing in electric hybrid vehicles to the county’s fleet.
Several projects have already been completed for example, changing all the county-maintained traffic lights from incandescent bulbs to LEDs, which last longer and consume less energy.
The solar array at the county’s Social Services complex in Liberty is also reaping benefits, with Stuart saying that even on that fogged-in Thursday morning, the array had produced 2.5 kilowatt-hours of electricity.
“It’s outperforming its expectations at this point,” he affirmed.
He suggested the county study constructing a solar farm on the open fields across Dr. Duggan Road from Lake Superior State Park, which the county runs.
“The more we do here in Sullivan County,” predicted Legislator Cindy Gieger, “the more opportunity we have to grow economically.”