Brasher seeks more CHIPS funds

A group of road superintendents and state leaders are calling for increased state support for local roads, bridges and culverts as part of a “Local Roads Matter” advocacy campaign. Christopher Lenney/Watertown Daily Times

BRASHER FALLS — Brasher Highway Superintendent Larry Hewlett was among other road superintendents and state leaders who called for increased state support for local roads, bridges and culverts as part of a “Local Roads Matter” advocacy campaign in Albany.

The group is asking for an increase in Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program base aid, which would be the first increase in seven years. They are calling for increasing state base aid for CHIPS by $150 million, for a total of $588 million. They say the CHIPS base level has remained unchanged at $438 million since 2013.

They’re also asking for a restoration of a $65 million “Extreme Winter Recovery allocation that is eliminated in Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s 2020-21 budget proposal.

Mr. Hewlett said they also advocated for a fairer distribution of funding between upstate and downstate New York.

“We have a guarantee of $174,000 coming back. We usually end up with $246,000. Some of that comes through PAVE-NY,” he told Brasher Town Board members Thursday.

That funding was important, representing the majority of the Highway Department’s budget that’s used to pave roads, Mr. Hewlett said.

“The amount of funding that we get every year from CHIPS is basically our paving program, not only the town of Brasher, but all the other towns and the county. The county, that’s their whole plan. If they don’t get CHIPS money, they don’t do any roads,” Town Supervisor Mark A. Peets said.

He proposed writing a resolution that board members would be asked to approve next month, supporting the CHIPS program and increased funding for upstate municipalities.

“We can at least voice our opinion that the northern reaches of the state need to have the funding as well. It’s not just New York City. We have a lot of roads up here. We can write a resolution with that wording. This should not be a political thing, this should be a need for roads,” he said.

Mr. Peets said that, as part of the resolution, he could come up with a calculation of the amount of money they spend in rehabilitating the town’s roads.

The resolution will be sent to Gov. Cuomo, Sen. Joseph Griffo, Assemblyman Billy Jones and the state Department of Transportation.

Although the board won’t be asked to approve it until its next meeting on April 8, the state has an April 1 deadline to pass its budget.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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