Mayors from across the state convened at the annual New York State Conference of Mayors annual meeting and called on state lawmakers to address a transportation funding shortfall.
Sunday, I traveled to Cooperstown to attend the NYCOM meeting, which was held May 5 to May 7. Two hundred and fifty mayors and municipal officials from all corners of the state convened to hear from experts on municipal management, install officers and discuss the pressing issues facing municipalities in New York, among them the rising crisis in transportation infrastructure funding.
NYCOM members joined together and called on state lawmakers to enact a supplemental capital budget to adequately fund the transportation infrastructure of the State of New York and enable local governments to make necessary repairs and upgrades to the roadways upon which millions of New Yorkers rely every single day. There are vital and notable programs that are not being adequately funded, both recently and systemically.
Most important to Canandaigua, state lawmakers were asked to revisit the antiquated State Arterial Maintenance reimbursement rates, which have not seen revision since 1987. Canandaigua is one of 38 cities in New York, with an existing agreement with the state for the city to maintain state arterial roadways and highways. Currently, the state sends 85 cents per square yard of roadways to each municipality for maintaining such state roads — a rate that has not increased in 32 years.
NYCOM is seeking an increase to $1.87 per square yard, which would yield a substantial increase to Canandaigua.
Among those programs is the Consolidated Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS), which has not seen an increase in funding in seven years. The program assists local governments with the cost of construction, reconstruction and improvement of local highways, bridges and highway-railroad crossings, and is vital to ensuring the health of New York’s transportation infrastructure. Additionally, NYCOM members called upon lawmakers to consider newly enforced federal Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, which an increase in CHIPS funding would help address.
The FY 2020 state budget also eliminated Extreme Winter Recovery Funding to the tune of $65 million. This is a hit to communities whose municipal workers make every effort to repair local roads in the spring. With the unexpected loss of funding, municipalities will face the choice of cutting down on repairs and repaving or raising taxes.
Many lawmakers have stated expressed intent to revisit transportation funding before the end of the legislative session.
Canandaigua’s elected officials urge them to do so, for we see maintenance of our vital transportation infrastructure in Canandaigua an essential service to our residents and visitors.
Ellen Polimeni is mayor of the City of Canandaigua.