Modified: August 9, 2019 7:48am

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The Erie County Capital Projects Committee recently approved the 2020 Capital Improvement Program and proposed Capital Budget to be submitted by Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz as he prepares the annual county budget. Poloncarz chairs the committee and recommended for the committee’s approval the approved plan.

Recommended was spending for projects that provide funding for various infrastructure improvements, economic development, energy conservation and anti-poverty programs, recommendations that include 2020 projects financed for roadwork and community development initiatives throughout Erie County.

In total, the county will invest nearly $61 million of its own dollars in all capital projects - $47,342,900 of which will be bonded and $13,650,800 of which will be pay-as-you-go – and nearly $80 million in total when federal and state matching funds are added.

The largest component of the approved 2020 projects is for the Department of Public Work’s Highway Division, which will invest a total of $45,628,000 in county road and bridge projects in 2020, $32,521,600 coming from county resources and the rest from federal state sources. Approved road and bridge projects include:

• $3 million for construction work of Crittenden Road and Bullis Road in Alden;

• $3 million for construction work on Maple Road in Amherst;

• $3 million for construction work on East and West Road in West Seneca;

• $2.5 million for construction work on North Main Street in Evans;

• $2.4 million for construction work on Wehrle Drive in Amherst;

• $1.9 million to replace the North Ellicott Road Bridge in Tonawanda/Amherst;

• $1.25 million for construction work on Trevett Road in Boston; and

• $700,000 for slide remediation of Ketchum Road in Lawtons.

“I thank the members of the Capital Projects Committee who agreed these specific projects are wise investments in our infrastructure that fit into my administration’s strategic budget planning process as we prepare a county budget that prioritizes funding, meets the needs of our community and allows for us to continue Erie County’s growth,” Poloncarz said.

Other highlights of the projects approved by the Capital Projects Committee include:

• $2.5 million to begin the replacement of the Clarence Road Highway Barns;

• $2.5 million for energy conservation implementation initiatives;

• $800,000 for continued economic development of the former Bethlehem Steel site;

• $500,000 for mechanical/electrical/plumbing work for the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library;

• $500,000 for improvements to the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center;

• $500,000 to the Buffalo History Museum;

• $500,000 to the Hispanic Heritage Cultural Institute;

• $400,000 to the Rural Outreach Center for new anti-poverty programming building;

• $100,000 for the final phase of restoration to the Roycroft Campus Copper Shop;

• $75,000 for renovation work to the Masten Boys & Girls Club; and

• $50,000 to the Cheektowaga Senior Center for a transportation van.

Capital projects are defined as physical projects that meet a specific set of criteria and usually involve substantial expenditures which may be required over a period of years. Each project is analyzed by the Department of Environment and Planning, Division of Budget and Management and the Capital Projects Committee. The Capital Projects Committee is made up of the County Executive, various Erie County Legislators and heads of various county departments.

Erie County is projected to pay off at least $49 million in debt principal in 2020. With $47,342,900 to be added, the recent trend of the Poloncarz administration paying down its debt continues.

Poloncarz additionally stated, “Since 2012 my administration has reduced the county’s principal debt by nearly $100 million, or approximately twenty-five percent of its total debt when I took office as executive. I am proud of our debt reduction efforts, and our 2020 plan will continue that trend while still meeting the infrastructure needs of our community.”