SYRACUSE -- Just months removed from a debate on using a tax increase, new fees or a bond of $3 million to address the problem of deteriorating roads in this community, city officials have found additional funding.
Following months of cost-saving measures, city officials voted Tuesday on an amended budget for the 2011-2012 fiscal year that includes an additional $315,580 in class B & C road funds.
Most of the additional money is being linked to a projected bump in sales revenue of $200,000, but other cost-saving measures are also being credited for the increase.
Mayor Jamie Nagle said finding the additional revenue is the greatest miracle new City Manager Robert Rice has pulled off since coming to work for the city a year ago.
She said Rice helped the city cut costs through a lot of little things to increase the city's savings and revenue stream.
Besides funneling more money toward roads, the amended budget also addresses another critical concern, City Finance Director Stephen Marshall said.
The additional road money exceeds salaries and benefits the city's B & C road funds, allowing the city to get away from dependency on state road money to pay for salaries, rather than road repair.
The city receives approximately $650,000 a year in class B & C road funds, but for the past few years most of that funding has been diverted to address salaries and wages, Rice said. Almost $450,000 a year of funding has been diverted to other uses, he said, leaving just $200,000 a year dedicated to the roads.
He said funding for snow removal, salt and maintenance also comes out of the revenue source.
The new budget shows city officials expect to spend $512,255 this year in B & C road funds to address at least three road projects. Money from another dedicated fund will provide an additional $600,000 to potentially widen some roads in the community, the spending plan shows.
Deteriorating roads have been a hot topic in the city for months, ever since a tentative budget for the current fiscal year initiated discussion of a property tax increase to address roads. That was followed by discussion of a possible maintenance fee of $6 to $8 a month added to monthly utility bills to generate road-repair funds.
City leaders ultimately decided to put a $3 million bond dedicated for roads before voters in November. That bond was defeated 1,569 to 772.
Officials have estimated a shortfall of $2.89 million for immediate road repairs, plus a projected need of $10 million to complete all the needed road work for the next five to 10 years.