Verona Town Board meets, begins reopening process

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VERONA — A Monday regular Verona Town Board meeting was the second time in the last two weeks the town has returned to in-person public meetings in the wake of coronavirus pandemic shutdowns.

This, as the Oneida and Madison county region works through a phased reopening plan outlined by the state. As municipalities start coming back online, local leaders are taking stock of financial impacts left by the virus.

Last week, at an emergency Verona board meeting, town officials enacted a list of cost saving measures to fix a roughly $250,000 shortfall created by declining sales tax revenue payments from the state and county and other factors resulting from the pandemic which effectively curbed businesses and local governments since mid-March.

The changes included an array of programming and equipment cuts as well as salary cuts and work reductions, and the town board indicated the desire to ultimately restore any cuts to staffing.

At Monday night’s meeting, Town Supervisor Scott Musacchio opined he anticipated budgetary impacts from the pandemic to be present through 2022, and noted that there still isn’t a clear picture of how much of a cut in sales tax revenue the town will get, only that he knows any upcoming payments will come in small increments rather than a lump sum.

Just prior to the meeting beginning, Musacchio advised town department heads present about best practices and safety protocols as Monday was the first day of a return to somewhat normalcy for the town government.

He reiterated that the town office building is still locked down, but residents may visit by appointment only to conduct business that can’t be handled over the phone or by email.

Further, masks and gloves will be worn and the building is routinely being sanitized.

“...We just have to muscle through,” Musacchio said.

In other brief updates, Musacchio said that while many infrastructure projects have been on hold in recent months, a water project with the city of Rome has been continuing.

Short term funding for ongoing engineering work is being paid off this week, and bid documents are currently being crafted to put the project out for bid.

Earlier this year the project was mapped out that would allow Verona to purchase water from Rome through a connection that will be established on state Route 46 at the town line.

Per the basic deal details, Rome would sell water to the town at an initial rate of $6.10 per 1,000 gallons.

Previously, officials have said the water demands of Verona are estimated at around 900,000 gallons per day, and there is a two million gallon per day cap on water with the deal for Verona.

In other town news, replacement of the Higginsville Road bridge which structurally failed and removed during an emergency action in September of 2019 - which has been on hiatus due to the coronavirus - will soon be back on track for a fall completion.

At the time of the collapse, a repair plan had already been in place.

In 2017, the state awarded $5 million for repairs to the bridge after Verona Town Board successfully applied for help through the state’s Bridge NY program, according to previous Daily Sentinel reports.

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