Democrats Point to a Program of Sustainable Infrastructure Investment

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MADISON – In a joint prepared statement, Democratic candidates for the Madison Borough Council, Councilwoman Astri Baillie and former Madison Board of Education member Debra Coen, point to the borough’s program of sustainable infrastructure investment that has been a major win for Madison residents.

The candidates stated, “The borough has allocated over $6.2 million for borough-wide capital improvements in 2018 and has defined a $28 million plan of investments in Madison’s roads, utilities, and other critical infrastructure for the five years – 2018 through 2022. Over $4.4 million is going to general capital in 2018, of which over $2.5 million is for road improvements and $350,000 is for storm water and sanitary sewer improvements. An additional $1.7 million is going to investments in our water and electric utilities.

For 2018, $1.8 million has been budgeted for the reconstruction of the following streets: Greenwood Avenue from Main Street to Rosedale Avenue, Plain Street, Rosewood Drive, Crestwood Drive, Kensington Road, and for sidewalks along Central Avenue between Ridgedale and Fairview Avenues. The largest of these projects is the one for Greenwood Avenue. This will be the first of a two-year reconstruction program for the street.
$385,000 has been budgeted for the following milling and paving projects in 2018: Barnsdale Road, Elmer Street, Keep Street, Kings Road from Madison Avenue to Prospect Street, Winding Way and the Cook Avenue parking lot. After a busy spring and summer, many of these projects have already been completed.

In addition, the Hartley Dodge Plaza is scheduled for reconstruction; the ongoing borough-wide sanitary sewer relining project continues; and upgrades to our storm sewers are underway. Needed equipment will also be purchased this year for our police, public works, and fire departments.”

“As recently as five years ago we were seriously under investing in infrastructure, and generating most of the investment dollars by drawing down our existing capital improvement fund and by one-time sales of borough property,” stated Councilwoman Baillie. “This was clearly not sustainable, Now, guided by recommendations from the 2014-2015 strategic planning effort along with a healthy utility surplus, we are funding our general capital and utility investment on a financially responsible, pay-as-you-go basis.

Now when we have future projects in the capital plan requiring large one-time appropriations, we are accruing the needed funds over a number of years so that bonding or a major disruption to the operating budget can be avoided. Examples of pay-as-you-go budget accruals include funding for new transformers for the electric utility, the purchase of automated water and electric meters, and the future replacement of a 28 year-old fire engine and a 23 year-old rescue vehicle.

An immediate need for a substantial upgrade to the Madison-Chatham Joint Meeting Sewage Treatment Plant to meet new state standards will be undertaken as a one-time investment that will require bonding. However, because we have been able to minimize bonding for capital investments, we can afford to bond the project without jeopardizing our AAA credit rating. The borough will also be in part relying on zero interest rate loans available through the New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust for the Joint Meeting upgrade. This will help to reduce the impact of the bonding on future budgets.”

Deb Coen noted, “Madison has long funded municipal infrastructure projects on a pay-as-you-go basis. According to a 1983 article in the Madison Eagle, the borough first transferred monies from the utility surplus to the municipal budget in order to meet capital needs in 1927 – over 90 years ago!

The borough is also taking advantage of available grant monies to help pay for our capital projects. Approximately half of the cost of the Hartley Dodge Memorial plaza reconstruction is being paid for by a grant from the Morris County Historic Preservation Trust Fund; a portion of the cost of the two-year Greenwood Avenue reconstruction is being funded by grants from the New Jersey Department of Transportation; and a Morris County Community Development Block Grant has been approved to help pay for the Plain Street water main project. Applications for Federal grants have also been submitted for the planned fire engine and rescue vehicle purchases.”

“We are on the right path now.” The candidates concluded. “Infrastructure continues to age and ultimately deteriorates, but we are investing in equipment, in our roads, in our sewers, in our water mains, and in our utilities at a rate that ensures that we stay ahead of this process. We are maintaining our infrastructure, and we are funding it in a sustainable manner utilizing the utility surplus.”