City officials review list of capital projects

Police Chief Greg Culick passed out pictures of the public safety building’s dilapidated air handlers in order to illustrate just one of the needed improvements included in a list of capital projects that were reviewed by the Common Council, Mayor and Controller at last Tuesday’s Finance Committee meeting. Culick said that 2 out of the 10 units that are critical to heating and cooling the building are currently inoperable and that rest of the units need to be replaced. Culick asked for approximately $20,000 for an engineering study to evaluate the entire building, and said that each unit would cost approximately $40,000 to replace.

City Engineer Rich Miller was present throughout the meeting to explain details on each item and answer questions. The list is still a draft, and some of the items, such as maintenance work on City Hall and separation of storm and sewer lines, were removed because grant money had already been secured. Council members also discussed putting off some non-critical projects until next year, or in the case of certain vehicles that are needed, looking at leasing instead of buying. Miller said that further revisions to the list are needed but expects the total amount to come in somewhere between $2 to $3 million.

Included in the list are several immediately critical projects such as a NY State mandated inspection of the city’s sewer and storm drainage systems which will cost approximately $280,000. Miller told the council last week that the city is facing a fine for not having the work done.

Miller also said that an upcoming mandatory inspection of the dam in the city’s reservoir area near Brookside Avenue will cost $30,000. If any deficiencies are found, then the city will need to pay for additional repairs. Miller said the dam is no longer needed, as the city now keeps its reservoir water under a dome structure. Miller said the cost to demolish the dam is approximately $50,000 but will save the city from any future inspection or maintenance costs.

Another project on the list is the repair of the roof of the Department of Public Works building on the East End. The estimated cost of the project is $400,000 however both the mayor and common council members agreed to have a separate discussion as to whether constructing a new building in a new location would be more cost-effective long-term.

A new sewer jet apparatus is another item on the list. The city’s current apparatus is not functioning and has had to rent a unit at the rate of $1400 per day.

Other projects on the list include: a new computer network for the public safety building, new OSHA compliant and insulated garage bay doors for the public safety building, additional laptop computers for police cars to improve ticketing efficiency, replacement of aging vehicles at the Department of Public Works, an additional snow plow, work on certain problem areas with the city’s water lines, a heavy-duty snowplow for clearing sidewalks, maintenance on the flood wall on the South Side, maintenance on the water tank near Tecler School, and system to scan and digitally store city records. Also included in the list is approximately $500,000 for demolition of dilapidated and foreclosed buildings.

The city’s total debt at the time of the adoption of the 2014-2015 budget was $24,761,703. The current amount is likely less due to retirement of some of the debt and the fact the council did not bond for any major projects last year. The council will decide in the next few weeks which projects to borrow additional money for and which projects to put off until next year.

Tim Becker

Tim Becker is the owner of Anthem Websites Inc. which publishes The Compass. He serves as both editor and a writer.