Column: Capital improvements are on the way

Mayor-MarvinThe trustees and I just concluded a six-week process that resulted in a new capital budget for the Village of Bronxville that totals $3.5 million.

Each year, the village writes a five-year capital improvement program. The annual program builds upon past programs and also tries to predict village capital needs going forward for the next three years. This kind of long-term planning is essential to address the long-term infrastructure needs of the village.

Department heads are first asked to produce a so-called wish list of proposed infrastructure projects and equipment needs which is refined after scrutiny by our village treasurer and village administrator.

Then the department heads have to present their individual budget proposals before the full Board of Trustees to justify the expenditures. The numbers were trimmed when warranted.

The capital improvement program budget will be on the agenda for a public hearing and possible vote at the village Board of Trustees meeting on April 7. In the interim, the document is available for public viewing at Village Hall and at the library.

The lion’s share of the budget, as is custom, revolves around the needs of the Public Works Department.

The board continues to advocate for a very aggressive street re-paving program, which will certainly be warranted given the proliferation of potholes created during this long, cold winter. The repeated freeze and thaw of our streets this year is doing extensive damage.

Since much of our storm and sewer infrastructure is near 100 years old, we also dedicated a large fund, $275,000, for upgrades and preventive maintenance. This was also the year in which several of our high-priced vehicles, including a bucket truck, dump truck and garbage truck, reached the end of their expected usefulness, necessitating $615,000 in new expenditures. Unfortunately, since this equipment is needed on a daily basis and at all hours, joint purchasing/sharing with our neighboring communities was not an option.

In an effort to recoup any value from the old equipment, we looked for re-sale options and have recently had great success using the auction method, be it through a government consortium or eBay. As you may remember, we purchased our snow melter last year through an inter-municipal sale, which has proven to be invaluable in cleaning up our parking lots.

As a corollary, the board also authorized money for an evaluation of our current Department of Public Works facilities since all of these high-ticket vehicles can only be stored outside, further decreasing their usable life. Built in the early 1940s, the Department of Public Works garage is long overdue for renovation. Much of our rolling stock is too large to be protected in our vintage garage.

This was also the year for two new police cars in the police department as current ones reached critical mileage. What we have found is that, due to wear and tear and 24/7 use, police cars reach a certain mileage and engine troubles begin and repair time and costs make it uneconomical to keep in the fleet.

We have also allotted monies in the budget to keep up with the constant need for replanting street trees as many are dying due to age or lost during storm events.

With the help of the Bronxville Historical Conservancy, which is sourcing and pricing the cost of our distinctive street signs, we will be replacing many throughout the village in the coming budget year.

The beautifully crafted signs have long been a distinct sign post that you were in the Village of Bronxville. More than 30 have been lost largely due to age and/or vehicular damage. We hope to bring them back with a phase-in program as monies are made available.

Internally, in the administrative arm of Village Hall, we have launched a program to improve our technological capabilities and, with it, our services to our taxpayers. We are currently installing new software to be used in our Building Department. Tracking permits and updating records of property improvements will now be done digitally. This improved data maintenance can then be shared with the taxpayer, providing comprehensive property information that can be readily available from home.

We are also looking at a variety of ways to provide a safer workplace for our court operations with improved security measures.

The library too will be looking to improve the outdated technology in the Yeager Room using both village tax dollars and monies received by the village from our cable franchise agreements. The library will improve its audio, video and transmission facilities, as well as replacing some well-worn furnishings.

The public is invited to participate in the public hearing for the capital improvement program at the April 7 board meeting. We welcome your input.