Last year, the Legislature unanimously approved an additional $5 million to be spent specifically for infrastructure repair. However, the County Executive opposed the additional spending, claiming the money could not be used in the 2014 road repair schedule. During the February 5 meeting of the Erie County Legislature’s Economic Development Committee, Majority Leader, Joseph C. Lorigo learned that 86 percent ($4.3 million) of an additional $5 million allocated for 2014 road repairs was spent, despite pushback from the County Executive.
“Clearly the County Executive was wrong on this issue, and his inability to properly budget and schedule road projects nearly caused more suffering for residents. Shortly after the County Executive released his 2014 Road Project List last spring, many Legislators immediately recognized that there wasn’t enough work scheduled or funding budgeted to address the County’s many infrastructure issues. The Legislature worked together to identify an additional $5 million for road work, talked with DPW crew members who said more work could be done, and finally approved the money to give residents the safe roadways they deserve,” said Legislator Lorigo. “While we worked to locate the funds and confirm that the money could be properly used, the County Executive and members of his administration fought us every step of the way. This opposition was extremely discouraging knowing we had work to get done and experts who said we could. Despite the County Executive’s shortsightedness, we allocated the money and encouraged DPW to complete as many projects as possible. As we recently learned, our additional funding was spent, DPW got to work, and several additional projects were completed. It is concerning that the County Executive had such a misunderstanding of how much work could be accomplished in a construction season.”
The additional $4.3 million that was spent was utilized throughout Erie County. Legislator Lorigo points to significant projects in his district, including repairing Jamison Road in Elma/Marilla, Seneca Creek Road in West Seneca, Blakely Corners in Aurora, and Center Street in Aurora/Holland.
Legislator Lorigo questioned how the County Executive had planned so poorly for last year’s construction season. He points to the County Executive’s comments concerning how the County would be able to utilize the funds. The County Executive was quoted by WGRZ, stating: “We would probably have to bring in 50 new people to spend the entire five million. It's just...there's that much work that you would have to put in to spend that kind of amount of money.” The money was spent without hiring permanent employees.
“Though we achieved great results, the process last spring was incredibly frustrating. I am pleased the money was utilized and additional critical projects were finished, but the initial pushback delayed the process unnecessarily. I am hopeful that going forward we can better prepare, and the County Executive will allocate appropriate funding to meet our needs. As everyone is aware, we are in the midst of another brutal winter and our roads are taking a beating. I want to be sure that when spring finally comes, we have our projects lined up and are working as aggressively as possible,” said Legislator Lorigo. “Despite a ‘guarantee’ from a top member of the County Executive’s Office that last year’s additional funding couldn’t be used, we clearly had the time and resources to get more work completed. As a result, Erie County residents benefited from the Legislature’s efforts.”
For information or assistance, please contact Legislator Lorigo’s Legislative Office at (716) 858-8922 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.