Deteriorating roadways become political football

pothole

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – County Legislature Republicans said they were disappointed that Democrats and the Erie County executive didn’t go along with their proposal to spend another $5 million on area roadways.

A spokesman for County Executive Mark Poloncarz says Republicans are looking to spend public dollars without a plan on which roads would be fixed.

Republican Majority Leader Joseph Lorigo said Thursday that Democrats and Poloncarz “refused to invest available county funds into additional road work at a time when the county’s infrastructure is deteriorating and residents are demanding action.”

But Peter Anderson, spokesman for Poloncarz, says that isn’t the case.

The county executive has already allotted $28 million for road repairs this year and Anderson says the Republicans want to spend an additional $5 million.  But so far, they “have not produced plans for what roads would be done with the extra $5 million.”

What’s more, Anderson said, “Highway crews will already be stretched to complete the amount of work already budgeted for, and there is no certainty that they could perform more even with an additional $5 million, which would likely go unused.”

Lorigo says Republicans want to use $5 million from the undesignated fund balance to help the Department of Public Works pay for several road projects that weren’t included on the road project construction list this year.

He argued, “The county executive should not tell residents that there are major road issues while not offering them a full investment of our county resources.”

But Anderson says Poloncarz is investing in area roadways, and that “it is fiscally irresponsible to spend fund balance without a plan for its use and for its replacement.” He cited a review by Republican Comptroller Stefan Mychlaijiw from last October to support his argument, which states, “Any use of fund balance without a plan on replenishing it weakens county finances. Paying for recurring expenses with non-recurring revenue was another hallmark of the red/green budget meltdown.”

Lorigo says the resolution will be brought up again in two weeks.

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