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The Times
  • Construction projects challenge municipalities

  • Need vs. want.

    That’s what municipalities weigh when considering construction projects during a time of economic uncertainty.

    The town of Frankfort and the village of Ilion are feeling that strain as they consider renovations and construction projects.

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  • Need vs. want.
    That’s what municipalities weigh when considering construction projects during a time of economic uncertainty.
    The town of Frankfort and the village of Ilion are feeling that strain as they consider renovations and construction projects.
    Most recently, the Frankfort Town Council voted to award bids for the renovation of 201 Third Ave., which was purchased in 2008 to become the new town hall. The total cost is estimated to be about $1.4 million.
    In Ilion, officials hired an architectural firm to draw up plans to replace the Department of Public Works garage. Mayor John Stephens anticipates it will cost about $5 million. The current garage has been cited for numerous issues.
    Deciding what is necessary in a construction project and what a municipality can do without is nothing new.
    Joseph Stefko, president and chief executive officer of the Center for Governmental Research, Inc. — a nonprofit management consultant agency for school districts and local governments based in Rochester — said it’s difficult to determine needs and wants.
    “In each community, deciding the need versus they want, can be a different calculation,” he said. “Unfortunately, there is no scientific definition to determine a need versus a want.”
    In Frankfort, town officials said they are looking at all avenues to finance the town hall project. Supervisor Joseph Kinney said it would be bonded over a 20- to 25-year period.
    “That’s a long time to place that debt service burden on the taxpayers of our town,” he said.
    It would inevitably mean raising taxes, he said.
    Kinney voted “no” to awarding the bids.
    “We’re changing the proposed town hall to fit our wants,” he said. “In my opinion, we should have changed our wants to fit the proposed facility.”
    The building houses several small offices, including the police department, the town clerk’s office and the town court. But some residents aren’t able to enter those offices because it is not handicapped accessible.
    Darlene Balio-Abbatecola, a town council member who voted in favor of the bid awards, said the renovations are necessary.
    She said it’s inevitable that taxes will go up.
    “It’s just an important issue that we need to get out of that building, and I’m sure the people of Frankfort would agree with me,” she said. “Unfortunately, everything has a price tag.”
    In Ilion, officials said there was a need for the construction of a public works garage because of health issues. Stephens said there is a leaky roof and there were mold issues.
    “We’ve convinced our insurance carrier to give us a full year,” he said. “I believe once they see us making progress, they’ll continue to help us out until we get a new facility up.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Stephens recognizes the hefty price tag the construction of a new garage will place on the residents, but was resigned to the fate.
    “We can’t afford to do anything, but necessity is dictating that we do this,” he said.

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