The Southold Town Highway Department’s latest roadwork has gone more than $70,000 over budget on materials and the town has yet to receive a promised $250,000 grant from the state for a separate road project, according to a discussion at Tuesday’s Town Board morning meeting.
“Paving’s not an exact science,” said Highway Superintendent Vincent Orlando.
Mr. Orlando told the board he was using last year’s mild winter to stockpile sand and materials to handle the coming snowstorms. But he said roadwork on town streets meant to “nip a few of the bad sections in town” before they get worse went over budget. Mr. Orlando said the roads were more badly damaged than had been anticipated.
“I could not leave [the roads] when I’m getting phone calls from people saying: ’These roads are damaging to my health.’ ” he said.
That didn’t sit well with some on the Town Board.
“You’re not legally able to spend money that’s not appropriated,” said Councilman Bill Ruland. “We have to know that there are parameters and controls in place that we can’t go beyond that amount unless it’s authorized.”
Town Supervisor Scott Russell added: “The money should be in place before you spend it.”
Mr. Orlando suggested moving funds from other budget lines to cover the expenses. But Town Board members questioned him about the larger plan to fix roads, a looming issue caused by two rough winters that has added millions in road repair projects to next year’s budget.
Town Board member James Dinizio said he wanted to see a long-term plan for all the roads in town, not just justification for those that would be repaired under next year’s budget.
“There’s still only so much money to go around and we have to be ever vigilant that we can only do what we can do,” added Mr. Ruland.
Mr. Orlando said he had driven every local street and inspected “every drain, every nook and cranny.” He said he’d provide the full details of which roads need repairs and when they could be expected soon.
The town has also been waiting for a $250,000 grant from the state to reimburse money already spent on repaving efforts, said comptroller John Cushman. The state had sent a letter of authorization to the town urging them to proceed and affirming the grant would be awarded, he said. But the funding won’t be freed up until the town puts out the money first, he explained.
However, the bill for that expense hasn’t been delivered to the town yet, he said.
Photo credit: Highway Superintendent Vincent Orlando speaks to the Town Board at a meeting Tuesday morning. (Credit: Paul Squire)