ERIE.GOV | Your information resource from the government of Erie County, New York


County Executive Elected Officials County Departments Living In Erie County Visiting Erie County Growing your business in Erie County State and regional municipalities

May 2014 Column - Funds available to complete much-needed road work


OFFICE HIGHLIGHTS

We’ve all experienced it. Driving down Transit Road in the heart of our community when all of a sudden the road tightens and your regular commute turns into a roller coaster as you head down and underneath the main railroad lines before climbing back out. Meanwhile, you’re hoping not to get sideswiped by a larger vehicle navigating the narrow stretch between French Road and Gould Avenue. Maybe you’ve seen one of our first responders racing to get to a call and due to the challenges of this stretch they accidently lose a side mirror on one of the bridges, an accident which has occurred all too often.


With the New York State SAFE Act punishing legal gun owners through burdensome regulations, Legislator Ted Morton (R-Cheektowaga) today voted in favor of a measure to support New York State Senator Rob Ortt’s (R-North Tonawanda) legislation to repeal the SAFE Act in areas outside of New York City.


Members of the Erie County Legislature have requested that the Erie County Fiscal Stability Authority (ECFSA) Board appear at the next Finance and Management Committee meeting to discuss the new plan that would allow the ECFSA to borrow on behalf of the Erie County Medical Center (ECMC) new emergency room. To account for the borrowing the County Executive has submitted a Declaration of Need, which requires Legislative approval.


In the wake of ongoing traffic and pedestrian safety issues, Legislator Ted Morton (R-Cheektowaga) announced the passage of a resolution calling on the New York State Department of Transportation to increase funding to widen Transit Road between French and Gould. The Erie County Legislature approved Legislator Morton’s resolution unanimously at the March 9, 2017 session.


Legislator Ted Morton (R-Cheektowaga) was recently invited to speak at the annual Cheektowaga Chamber of Commerce Legislative Breakfast, held Feb. 10, where he provided an update on a wide range of issues, including the county’s budget, the county’s relationship with the Erie County Medical Center (ECMC), the opioid epidemic and education.


At the May 8 session I was proud to sponsor a resolution that called for the transfer of $5 million from the undesignated fund balance to this year’s budget to allow for additional road work. Knowing how dire the condition of our roadways is and the fact that the fund balance is currently at $89 million, I supported spending the small percentage of funding to ensure we were repairing as many roadways as possible.

 

Unfortunately, my colleagues from the Democratic Caucus did not recognize the seriousness of this issue and the item fell short of the required eight votes. The resolution was sent to committee to be considered at the May 22 session. I am extremely frustrated that this vote was put off, but what is more frustrating is the County Executive’s response that he won’t spend the money even if we allocate it. His office responded that Legislators are allocating money without a plan. How can our County Executive say he doesn’t have a plan to repair our crumbling infrastructure? That is irresponsible. We know the plan, every year a thorough review of our roads is done from top to bottom, he knows this, he apparently is just choosing to ignore it.

 

We have a diligent Department of Public Works and the commissioner and employees have spoken at committee, saying that they spent months working on the plan to be ready for the spring. That includes grading each of the county’s 1,200 lane miles. They are aware of the condition of each and every roadway we own.  Based on that analysis, the 2014 Road Project List, which totals $24 million, was created and approved. However, the total of projects needing attention wasn’t encompassed in the list. There are still more projects, however the County Executive didn’t budget money for them. Now, we have identified a funding source to pay for those additional projects that are already identified as necessary.

 

I don’t understand why the County Executive and my Democratic colleagues in the Legislature aren’t onboard with getting this money designated immediately and projects put on the construction calendar. We are losing time. Last month the County Executive said he didn’t think we could get the work done before the end of the season. Well, if he and his Democratic colleagues continue to delay, he will prove himself right and you, the taxpayers, will be left to suffer, driving on horrible roadways.

 

The fact is, we know there is much work to do be done and we have the funds available to take care of these serious issues.

 

County roads and bridges are our assets, and we are responsible for maintaining them. We can’t ignore issues, even if the solution may not be easy or convenient. That same approach has to be taken with the former Erie County Home that is sitting vacant in my district on Walden Avenue in Alden. It’s not only an eyesore, but it is unsafe.

 

I understand that removing the structure will not be easy or without a significant financial investment, but we still own it and must take action to deal with the issue. I am advocating for a fiscally responsible plan to take down this burden once and for all. We can’t drag our feet on this issue any longer and put the cost on taxpayers.