Saratoga County to receive more CHIPS funding for roadwork in state budget
The Saratogian, Monday, March 25, 2013
ALBANY — Counties, towns and villages across the state are set to receive the first increase in state funding for their local roadwork in five years as part of the 2013-14 state budget.
The Consolidated Local, Street and Highway Improvement Program, known as CHIPS, has had a flat budget since the 2008-09 state budget, while the cost of repairing roads has continued to rise.
“We’ve been struggling to keep up,” Greenfield Highway Superintendent Walter Barss said. “We’re excited for the boost.”
The CHIPS funding increases his roadwork budget by $45,383 — 27.5 percent — to $210,501, which is higher than it has been for years. He said that would translate to about a half-mile more of a full road reconstruction or more rehabilitation of roads, depending on what is needed. Barss said there is a significant need for that type of work.
He was among hundreds of highway superintendents who made a trip to Albany earlier this month to lobby for more money in the CHIPS budget.
“It is a good boost in the arm,” he said, adding that 87 percent of the state’s roads are maintained by local municipalities. “It’s overdue and we’re happy to get it.”
Saratoga County is getting $387,087 more than last year’s funding. That may mean more miles of road reconstructed or more complete restoration of roads.
“We’re assessing it right now,” county Public Works Commissioner Keith Manz said. “There were a couple projects we scaled back that will probably be restored.”
Usually, this type of work is done by town and county employees, but sometimes it is subcontracted out.
Barss said that could mean more work for local contractors, something Gov. Andrew Cuomo emphasized in a press release announcing the funding increase Monday.
“This budget is about jobs, jobs, jobs,” Cuomo said. “By investing in rebuilding our state’s transportation infrastructure, we are helping to grow local economies and create jobs in all corners of the state.”
CHIPS was established by the Legislature in 1981 to support repairs to the highways, bridges and roads that counties, towns and villages operate and maintain.
The budget for the 2013-14 CHIPS program is $438 million, up $75 million. Each town, city and village in Saratoga County is getting a piece of the increase.
Saratoga Springs, for instance, will receive $612,090 this year, a 23 percent increase over last year’s budget.
In all, Saratoga County and its cities, towns and villages are set to receive $6.2 million — $1.1 million more than in the last five years.
“This funding represents a 21 percent increase — the first in five years — that will help improve the quality and safety of our local roads,” said Sen. Kathy Marchione, R-Halfmoon, who voted for the budget increase. “Local roads matter and connect our communities with commerce and capital. I want to recognize the year-round hard work of all our local highway superintendents and crews that ensure our roads and bridges are safe and well-maintained.”