Oneida Common Council digs into proposed public works budget

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ONEIDA — The Oneida city council met for its second budget workshop with City Engineer Jeffrey Rowe to discuss the Department of Public Works and capital projects.

City Comptroller Lee Ann Wells said the DPW’s budget has been about maintaining current services for city residents. Costs such as payroll and overtime have gone up but this is a contractual obligation.

On top of this, Rowe said material prices are on the rise — citing an increase of 70% for the cost of water pipes.

On the capital project side of things, Wells laid out their three categories: projects with funds allocated in the budget, projects to be funded by serial bonds, and projects to be funded by grant funds.

Wells said projects to be funded by serial bonds are a “...wish list.”

“Maybe we’ll have the money, maybe we’ll find a grant. But it’s not set in stone,” Wells said. “[The city council] will vote on them when the time comes.”

This list of capital projects on the serial bond wish list include:

DPW relocation project — design phase

Higinbotham Brook final design phase

Replace six-wheel dump truck

Municipal building energy efficiency upgrades

Municipal building HVAC chiller replacement

Fleet fueling tank replacement

Chipper truck replacement

Wastewater Treatment Plant second Clearwell

Fixed base metering system

“The DPW is currently located on Sconondoa Street and the project is to move the DPW to where the wastewater treatment plant is currently,” Rowe said. “The existing building was constructed in the 1920s and it went through the flood. Quite frankly it’s amazing it stood.”

Ward 1 Councilor Carrie Earl asked what would happen to the property when the DPW is moved. While the property is in the flood plain, the building is owned by the city — not FEMA.

“We can sell the building since it’s not part of FEMA,” Mayor Helen Acker said.

“We could also extend the park,” Earl countered.

The design phase of the project would be bonded for $221,000.

Ward 6 Councilor Tom Simchik said there’s a grant for $1.9 million to build a new central garage that was given to Oneida by the state after the flood.

“But it’s a grant where we get reimbursed, so we have to build it first,” Rowe said. “And we’re already qualified for it and they know we’re waiting on the wastewater treatment plant,” Acker said. The next budget meeting will be Monday, Nov. 8 at 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers.

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