Mayors seek fair pay for work on state roads

Mayors from across New York state — including Canandaigua Mayor Ellen Polimeni — are calling on the state Legislature to include $12.7 million in funding they say would fairly compensate municipalities for the road work they do for the state.

This labor, called arterial maintenance, involves municipalities maintaining roads, filling potholes,and salting and snow plowing state roads that fall within municipal borders. The 38 cities that participate — which include nearby cities such as Geneva, Auburn, Ithaca and Syracuse — are reimbursed by the state for the work. The problem is, the rate of reimbursement for performing such work has not increased since 1987.

The costs of doing the work “have experienced substantial increases during the last 32 years,” according to a March 5 letter from the New York State Conference of Mayors to state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and state Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.

Canandaigua maintains 158,993 square yards of state arterial highway, mainly Route 332 and Routes 5 and 20.

The reimbursement rate is 85 cents a yard. Should the rate be adjusted to the cost-of-living index, the rate would jump to $1.87 a yard and the city would see an additional $162,173 coming its way.

“That’s a substantial increase for us,” Polimeni said. “It’s something we feel we should be paid appropriately for.”

Should the mayors’ request be fulfilled, it would be up to City Council to determine how such funds would be spent, City Manager John Goodwin said. That figure could fund needed police officer or Department of Public Works positions or help provide some other service, Goodwin said.

“At the end of the day, that non-property-tax revenue would help us serve the community,” Goodwin said.

This is an issue that mayors and other municipal leaders have taken up in the past, to no avail.

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