SYRACUSE -- City leaders continue to cobble together money to fund road repairs.
City Manager Robert Rice noted more funding for road repair has been found this season, given some projects which have come in under budget. Rice said the city received $78,000 more in road funds than was projected and also had several projects come in under budget projections.
A topic of discussion for several years, the repair of local roads has been a priority of Rice and other city leaders for months. Discussions about the problem reached a point in 2011 at which city leaders proposed a bond for road repair projects, which was not passed. Also discussed was a possible fee on utility bills to fund the process.
City leaders approved a fiscal year budget for 2012-13 that includes $3.9 million in capital projects.
Rice noted the city has saved money on engineering, and a recent project bid also came in $40,000 under budget. He said the additional funds means one more road project will be done this year.
"Everyone is doing a great job. A lot of work is getting done on the roads. It's a really good use of the funds," Rice said.
Officials estimated a shortfall of $2.89 million for immediate road repairs, plus a projected need of $10 million to complete all the necessary road work in the next five to 10 years. In the previous fiscal year, the city had only $78,000 to spend on road repair and maintenance.
Mayor Jamie Nagle is pleased that more money is going to roads, but said much more remains to be done.
"The strategic decisions we have made over the last couple of years, relative to long-term sustainability, have made it possible for us to devote a lot more money to roads and infrastructure. While we still have much to do, we are making progress," the mayor said.
Besides funneling more money for roads, the current budget also addresses another critical concern, said Stephen Marshall, city finance director. The additional road money exceeds salaries and benefits in the city's B & C road fund, allowing the city to get away from dependency on state road money to pay for salaries, rather than road repair itself.
The city receives approximately $650,000 a year in class B & C road funds, but for the past few years much of that funding was diverted to address salaries and wages, Rice said.