Local towns plan use of federal relief funds; Water, sewer infrastructure eyed

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PHOTOGRAPHER:

Three of five Schenectady County towns will use some, if not all, of the federal aid money for local municipalities to improve water and sewer infrastructure. 

“We’re having a lot of trouble with our water system,” said Princetown Town Supervisor Lou Esposito.

Esposito said the town will get $320,000 in money from the American Rescue Plan. 

“We’re a small town, we’re not getting a lot,” he said. The plan included $350 billion in direct financial relief for state and local municipalities, with $65 billion for cities, villages and towns and another $65 billion for counties. 

Funds cannot be used to offset direct or indirect tax reductions or delay tax increases, according to the New York Government Finance Officers Association. The money also cannot be deposited into pension funds.

Esposito said all $320,000 will go toward fixing the water system in town, which is only 21 years old. However, he said there’s already been 14 water main breaks this year, including one in the past week on Route 7 that took three hours to fix. Esposito said the aid won’t cover all of the costs–which haven’t been calculated out yet by the town engineer–but it will definitely help. 

Rotterdam Town Supervisor Steven Tommasone said he will talk to town board members about using some of the funds for water infrastructure as well. 

“We know what our short-comings are and what needs to be replaced,” Tommasone said. 

He also said he wants to see if the money could be used to purchase land west of Five Corners and create a town park. 

Rotterdam is expected to get $3.3 million, he said. 

“It’s not huge, but it’s very welcomed,” Tommasone said. 

Niskayuna Town Supervisor Yasmine Syed said the town will get around $2.4 million. Syed said she’s waiting to hear what the specific guidelines will be for spending the money, but she wants to see some of the money go toward infrastructure. 

“I would say certainly that a portion of this stimulus funding will go towards infrastructure,” she said. “Specifically, I will suggest applying it towards funding a water well redevelopment project and/or replacement of water mains and pipes.”

Syed also said the town saw revenue declines that will be covered by the funding.

“Specifically, we saw significant revenue declines from the Justice Court budget while it was closed during the most infectious months of the pandemic,” she said. “In order to adequately contact trace all visitors to town hall and our facilities, we installed temperature scanners and hired staff to check-in visitors.” 

Just like Syed, Glenville Town Supervisor Chris Koetzle is also waiting on more information, particularly whether Scotia will get funding.

“We would want to share some of that with the village,” he said. 

Koetzle said the town is expected to get $3.2 million right now, and he’ll suggest expanding broadband infrastructure to the western portion of the town and a possible capital project at town hall to better suit the town’s needs should there ever be another pandemic. 

However, Koetzle said municipalities are only expected to get half of the fund in 60 days, with the other half coming in 2023 and a deadline to spend all of the fund by December 2024.

Duanesburg Town Supervisor Roger Tidball said he hasn’t heard about getting anything for the town, but if it were to get money he would want to spend it on upgrading the town park and the highway garage. 

Mayor Gary McCarthy said the city of Schenectady is expected to get just under $58 million.

McCarthy said he’s waiting to see exactly how the Department of Treasury will dictate how the money can be spent before deciding how to use it. The mayor said once he knows what the money can be used for, he will talk to the county and school district on ways to use the funds. 

Schenectady County is expected to get around $30 million. Count Manager Rory Fluman has said the county has spent at least $2 million in unanticipated costs due to the pandemic, as its Public Health Services has had to gear up first a contract-tracing effort and now a vaccination campaign.

The county wouldn’t comment further on the use of funds.

Categories: News, Schenectady County

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