Last week the North Castle Town Board unanimously approved authorizing the municipality to borrow up to $10 million to finish the final 31 miles of repaving throughout the town at an accelerated pace.
While adoption of the state Environmental Quality Review Act and bond resolutions at the board’s May 12 meeting allows the borrowing, it doesn’t obligate the town to obtain the money, said Supervisor Michael Schiliro. When the health crisis wanes, officials will evaluate whether it’s fiscally prudent to move ahead with the expedited work.
“We want to see when some of the smoke settles from this COVID crisis where we are in sales tax, where we are in (mortgage) recording tax, just where things are in general, where our budget is, are there modifications we need to make in our budget, for this year or going forward,” Schiliro said.
Over the past six or seven years the town has been putting aside about $1 million a year toward repaving all 93 miles of town road. This year the town had also earmarked that amount to repave about nine miles.
Early on in the process, the board also borrowed $4 million to quicken the pace of work.
Initially, the board considered authorizing up to $8 million but increased the total after Town Administrator Kevin Hay informed members that the entire town could be completed for about $2 million more. Hay estimated that 31 miles of paving would take Highway Department crews two to two-and-a-half years to finish.
Town officials noted that interest rates remain at or near historically low levels, which makes borrowing more attractive. Furthermore, North Castle residents expect certain services, and one of the most important is well-maintained roads.
Although the rating for the town’s roads has improved markedly in recent years, about one-third of its thoroughfares have still not been addressed and are in substandard condition.
“It’s not something we’re committing to, it’s something that gives us a good option down the road, to do something for quality of life, for sure,” said Councilman Barry Reiter.
The plan would be for the town to use the same $1 million a year it puts aside for paving and use the funds to pay off the bond, Hay said.
Councilwoman Barbara DiGiacinto said she thought bonding would be “a good investment” if it could be accomplished once the town analyzes its finances later in the year.
“Without a doubt, (to) our residents, the roads are probably the most important thing and we’re really able to, with this bond, we’ll make it happen because with this bond we’re really close to bringing our roads up to a more than acceptable level,” DiGiacinto said.
Basic services and amenities are what the residents look for their local officials to address, Schiliro said.
“All of these little things help in the quality of life for people that live here and that’s what we’re here for, it’s part of what we’re here for,” he said.