Democrats Point to Sustainable Infrastructure Investment

Councilwoman Maureen Byrne, Mayor Bob Conley, and Planning Board member Rachel Ehrlich inspect the 1990 vintage Fire Engine #3. The borough has been accruing capital dollars for the 2020 replacement of this reserve engine and the 1995 Rescue #4 with a new, combined pumper and rescue vehicle. By accruing monies from the utility surplus over a number of years, the borough can purchase the new engine without having to issue bonds or disrupt the overall capital program for next year. Byrne, Conley, and Ehrlich, who are running for election in November, believe that pay-as-you-go is the most sustainable, fiscally responsible approach to on-going capital investment.

Read the article on the Madison Eagle website.

MADISON – In a joint prepared statement, Madison Mayor Bob Conley, Councilwoman Maureen Byrne and Madison Planning Board member Rachel Ehrlich, point to the borough’s program of sustainable, pay-as-you go capital investments as a major win for Madison residents, delivering needed upgrades in critical infrastructure in a fiscally responsible way.  Conley and Byrne are both running for re-election in 2019.  Ehrlich is running for her first term on Council.

“As recently as six years ago we were seriously under investing in new equipment and infrastructure, and we were generating most of our investment dollars by drawing down what was left of the capital improvement fund and by one-time sales of borough property,” stated Mayor Conley. “This was clearly not sustainable. Now, guided by recommendations from the strategic planning effort that I initiated during my first term as mayor together with a healthy utility surplus, we are funding our general capital and utility investments on a sustainable, pay-as-you-go basis.”

Councilwoman Byrne, who serves as Council Liaison for Public Works and Engineering and is a member of the Finance and Borough Clerk Standing Committee added, “I’m proud of the sensible budgeting process we have in place.  It’s just like a family who saves up for a future home improvement.  You plan, save and then carefully spend when you have what you need. 

This year the Council has allocated over $6.3 million for borough-wide capital improvements and has defined a $28 million plan of investments in Madison’s roads, utilities, and other critical infrastructure for the five years from 2019 through 2023.  $4.63 million has been budgeted in 2019 for general capital investment, of which over $1.9 million will be for road improvements and $370,000 for storm water and sanitary sewer improvements. An additional $1.67 million is going this year to investments in our water and electric utilities.

Road improvement projects for this year include the reconstruction of the following Madison streets: Greenwood Avenue from Rosedale Ave to Florham Park, Sayre Ct, Ross Ct, Vinal Pl, Bruns St, and Community Pl.  The largest of these projects has been the reconstruction of busy Greenwood Ave. This year’s effort represents the second phase of what has been a two-year program, a portion of which is being funded by grants from the New Jersey Department of Transportation.  At the time of this submission, the final paving for this section of Greenwood Ave was scheduled for completion on August 8.

The following milling and paving projects are also planned for 2019: Colonial Way, Chateau Thierry Ave from Park Ave to Belleau Ave, Belleau Ave, Hamilton St, Chapel St, Wisteria Ct, Crestview Ave, Laurel Way, Lawrence Rd. and Lynwood Pl.  After a busy spring and summer, many of these projects have now been completed.  Needed equipment will also be purchased this year for our police, public works, and fire departments,”

“When we have future projects in the capital plan requiring large one-time expenditures, the borough accrues the needed funds over a number of years so that bonding or a major disruption to the operating budget can be avoided,” noted candidate Ehrlich. “An example of pay-as-you-go budget accruals is the planned replacement of the 29 year-old reserve Fire Engine #3 and the 24 year-old Rescue Vehicle #4 with a single, combined pumper and rescue vehicle in 2020. The new engine will also tow a new rescue equipment trailer and be fitted with new, dedicated turnout gear. Currently, personal equipment such as air packs must be transferred from the newer trucks to the back-up truck when the reserve engine is called out, wasting precious minutes.  The borough began accruing funds for this major purchase in 2018.

The primary funding source for all of these general capital investments comes from the electric utility surplus. Since our borough’s tax-free property holders rely on the Madison Fire Department for the same protection of life and property as our tax payers do, this use of the utility surplus allows us to share the cost of vital public safety investments with the borough’s tax-free property holders.”

The candidates concluded. “Infrastructure and critical equipment continues to age and naturally deteriorate, but we are making smart investments in new equipment, our roads, our sewers, and in our utilities at a rate that ensures that we will stay ahead of this process.  The strategic planning committee on the municipal budget recommended that no less than 10% of the annual municipal budget be allocated to the capital improvement fund.  This year’s budget appropriates $3.8 million or 11.8% of total appropriations to the fund. We are maintaining our infrastructure and equipment, and we are funding it in a sustainable, pay-as-you-go program funded by the electric utility surplus.”

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