OWEGO — At its work session Wednesday, the Tioga County Legislature was brought up to speed on the potential for fast accumulation of capital projects that could exceed $7 million next year.
“I have a cautionary thing to say about the fund balance,” said county Budget Officer Rita Hollenbeck. “This morning we went through capital projects, and the new year capital (project) requests at this point in time are about $3,300,000.”
“But, every year in the beginning of the year, you reestablish capital projects that were not completed this year, in next year’s budget,” she noted.
“So, besides the new money of $3.3 million being requested, you’re probably going to be reestablishing projects for approximately $4 million after federal and state shares (are deducted),” Hollenbeck explained. “Together, the two of them would be obligating you for about $7 million,” .
Hollenbeck noted the capital fund balance at year’s end in 2018 was roughly $9.5 million, and the general fund balance was roughly $20 million.
“Well, we’ll see,” said Legislative Chair Martha Suerbrey. “We may have to go back and look at some of the capital requests.”
“Absolutely,” Hollenbeck replied, noting that the proposed projects were in line with the previously approved county capital plan.
“If we can’t get it done in a year, maybe we’re trying to do too much, I don’t know,” said Sauerbrey.
Hollenbeck noted one reason for the higher request total is the attempt to get bids at better prices while costs are lower.
However, the major reason for project delay is state approval.
“(DPW Commissioner) Gary (Hammond) has come to committee two or three times and said that the delay isn’t on their part — it’s on (the New York State) Department of Transportation’s part,” explained Hollenbeck. “For some reason, they’re extremely slow at looking at their packages, approving designs and approving engineering.”
The departments of Public Works and Information Technology will be bringing forward updated five-year plans in September in order for legislators to make an informed decision on which projects will be included in next year’s spending plan.