EAST AURORA BEE
July 25, 2013
Brooklea bridge needs to be fixed
If you attended the Aurora Town Board’s work session last week, you would have learned that the town planned to pass a resolution that said it would fix the Brooklea bridge. Yet if you showed up at Monday night’s Town Board meeting, you would have heard a different version of the story.
On Monday, the board passed a resolution stating that the town would hire an engineer to analyze the repairs needed for the bridge in order to develop a plan of action and find out the actual cost of such repairs. The board, however, did not resolve to actually repair the bridge, as it suggested it would in the work session. This is because the town still does not feel as though the control and maintenance of the bridge is its responsibility.
While we commend the Town Board for taking the initial steps toward bridge repairs, we do not feel that simply hiring a structural engineer to decide the best method of fixing the bridge and determine the repair cost is enough. What will happen when the analysis is complete, but once again, no one claims ownership? The Brooklea Bridge needs to be fixed.
We believe that both the town and the Village of East Aurora have valid, legally based arguments as to why each feels it is not responsible for the bridge’s maintenance. Yet, time is running out before the “heavily corroded” culverts, as they were referred to by the state Department of Transportation, become an actual danger to residents.
At separate times, the village and town both proposed splitting the cost of repairs, in the spirit of being a good neighbor.
The boards appear like siblings dealing with the chore of dirty dishes. Rather than working together to wash the dishes, they are bickering over whose turn it should be. Residents may be in hot water as this issue has transformed into a platform for a candidate popularity contest when it should be about genuine concern for residents.
It is time for the village and town officials to sit down for one more meeting. If both agreed at separate points to split the cost, then perhaps they can reach that compromise once more. It would be a shame if the two municipalities have to go to court to resolve the issue, using the taxpayers’ money in order to do so.
As East Aurora Mayor Allan Kasprzak said in a previous Village Board meeting, the residents don’t care who is responsible for fixing the Brooklea bridge, they just want it fixed.
It is time to quit the squabbling and move forward to a resolution that benefits the residents. We are looking forward to when this issue becomes, well, water under the bridge.
Appeared in the July 25, 2013 East Aurora Bee. Subscribe online: http://www.eastaurorabee.com/news/2013-07-25/Editorials/Brooklea_bridge_needs_to_be_fixed.html
Aurora Missed Out On Low Interest Rates
by Kristy Kibler
Editor, East Aurora Advertiser
July 25, 2013
Aurora officials agreed that they had missed an opportunity to take advantage of low interest rates in the bond market this spring after town council candidate Chris Lane asked about the issue at the Town Board’s July 22 meeting.
In March, Supervisor Jolene Jeffe had announced that, based on a debt service study, Aurora could save roughly $1.1 million over the years if it refinanced its bonds. However, nine days after that announcement, “the window for refinancing closed,” Lane said in prepared comments. “Today, you can’t get a rate that makes refinancing worthwhile.”
Lane went to say that the rates had been good for refinancing for years, and quoted a Buffalo News article that had reported that the town currently pays 4.5 percent interest on its loans and, with refinancing, had hoped it lower it to 2 percent.
“Did you close on the rate?” Lane asked.
Jeffe replied that well over 80 percent of the town’s debt service is related to water district restructuring that the residents had voted on. She also said that the costs associated with the new town hall had to be bonded for a longer amount of time (rather than paid off in five years, which was the original plan), the amount is still less than if the town had constructed a building or renovated one that required extensive renovation. Councilwoman Sue Friess added that it was important to look at the whole financial picture of the district, not just “one piece of the pie.”
David Majka, another town board candidate, repeated Lane’s original question. To the additional inquiry, Jeffe confirmed that the town had missed the window for the refinancing, saying he had “hit the nail on the head.”
“Those were projections, not promises,” Jeffe said of the $1 million figure she had announced earlier in the year. “Just prior to when we were going to go out ... the market changed. We are currently in a holding pattern.”
Jeffe added that the town has “everything ready to go,” and when its financial advisors indicate that the market is favorable again, the town will proceed with the refinancing process once again, hopefully before the close of 2013. Majka went on to criticize Jeffe and the board for misreading the market and failing to tell residents that it had missed the opportunities.
APPEARED ON PAGE 10 OF THE 7/25 EAST AURORA ADVERTISER: www.mywnynews.com/east_aurora_advertiser