WALLINGFORD — Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr. allocated an additional $82,000 for road salt in his 2018-19 budget proposal because he says it’s uncertain whether the town will receive state grant funding for snow removal and other roadwork next year.
Dickinson said he can no longer count on the usual state funding for road maintenance.
“We don’t know whether we’re going to get it, so it's one of the examples where the unknowns increase our expenditures,” Dickinson said Thursday.
In early January, the Public Works Department requested a midyear transfer for just under $82,000 to purchase 1,000 tons of road salt, according to a memo from Public Works Director Henry McCully to the mayor. The department had started to run low after a series of winter storms.
Dickinson said the money was needed because the town didn’t receive anticipated Town Aid Road grant money from the state.
“We were not getting the money we had in the past,” he said.
The state budgeted $60 million in TAR grants for the full fiscal year. Normally it delivers half those funds in July and the remainder in January. But several factors have interfered with the normal flow of road repair funds to cities and towns.
The legislature did not adopt a new budget for this fiscal year until late October. The State Bond Commission approved bonding for the first $30 million installment at its Nov. 29 meeting.
But Malloy also warned legislators in November that the state’s Special Transportation Program — and Connecticut’s aging, overcrowded infrastructure — is on the brink of a fiscal crisis.
Absent more funding, the administration said, the state would need to scrap some rail services; drive up rail and bus fares; suspend 40 percent of planned capital projects, including major highway rebuilds like the Hartford viaduct; and possibly suspend TAR grants to remain solvent over the next five years. It also warned some changes would begin this year.
Malloy has asked lawmakers to add seven cents to Connecticut’s 25-cents-per-gallon retail gasoline tax, and to order electronic tolling on highways. The latter, if approved, probably would not yield major revenue until the 2021-22 fiscal year, the administration says.
The governor, whose budget office sets the State Bond Commission agenda, did not include the second installment of TAR grants on its March 16 agenda.
Malloy said at the time that he could not justify financing more road repair grants for towns when the administration had just canceled or delayed $4.3 billion worth of state projects, including the upgrades to the elevated section of Interstate 84 in Hartford as well as the junction of I-84 and Route 8 in Waterbury, commonly known as the “mixmaster.”
Information from the Connecticut Mirror was included in this story.