Tonawanda News

March 19, 2014

PATCHING HOLES

By Michael Regan michael.regan@tonawanda-news.com
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — The North Tonawanda Common Council approved an updated capital budget Tuesday, one that came in below original projections released in November and with an expanded focus on the city’s infrastructure. 

The budget, which dropped from $2.29 million to $2.15 million, will leave the city with just over $13 million in debt related to capital projects. 

Amanda Reimer, a staff accountant with the city, said the total was sized-down after the council pulled about $140,000 initially earmarked for water line replacements. 

Instead, after a grueling winter that caused roads to further deteriorate and with many water and sewer lines nearing 100 years in age, the council will shift more money toward road repairs and paving as well as storm sewer separation projects. 

“With the storms we had and the weather this past year 2013-2014 will be remembered as having extreme weather,” said Mayor Rob Ortt. “But the positives you take out of it are that these are areas you have to improve. In the dry weather years we weren’t talking about it as much. It wasn’t as evident. The upside is that we now realize we have to do these things to mitigate the storms.” 

The city will bond $300,000 for road repairs, $300,000 for storm sewer separation projects and another $200,000 for the replacement of cast iron water mains along Park Avenue. Another $300,000 will be borrowed to purchase gas generators for pump stations in the city to avoid flooding during power outages. 

Common Council President Russ Rizzo, who also represents the First Ward, said the council also expanded the amount of money set aside for roadwork this summer, raising the bonded and non-bonded funding ceiling from $800,000 to more than  $1 million, though a list of what streets will be repaved this year will not be released until next month. 

“We knew what had to be done and we knew where we had to put the dollars,” Rizzo said. “Everyone on the council was in agreement.” 

The Department of Public Works will also purchase $375,000 in equipment through the capital budget, while police, fire and engineering departments will get $185,000 in new vehicles and cruisers. 

Several other projects, including work on the North Tonawanda City Market building as well as the removal of asbestos in several other city structures, will round out projects to be funded through loans. 

Also on Tuesday, 22 North Tonawanda High School students participated in “Student Government Day” at City Hall and various city departments, trailing supervisors and council members along with the mayor. Nine of the students stood in during the council meeting conducting city business under the politicians they had shadowed throughout the day. 

In other council news: 

• Michael L. Ackerman was appointed as a Commissioner of Deeds. 

• An environmental assessment was approved for a storm sewer separation project along Ironton Street near First, Second and Third avenues. 

• A contractual amendment with the engineering firm Parsons Brinkerhoff was approved for a traffic signal design at the intersection of Meadow Drive and Nash Road.