We have stated repeatedly that the state of the Village-owned roads in Scarsdale is atrocious, and part of our platform calls for an accelerated program to strategically repair our Village roads. Unfortunately, as part of the disinformation campaign trying to malign the Voters Choice Party candidates, word is being spread that we are proposing to issue a $10-$12 million bond to repair all the Village roads at once. We have never said that. We would never say that. And indeed, repairing all our roads would cost about $28 million.
What we do say is that, overall, our roads in Scarsdale Village are a potholed, crumbling mess. The Village says it repaves each road on a 30 year cycle. That means the Village repaves only about 2.6 miles of the 79 miles of Village-owned roads each year. Our roads in Scarsdale are in a perpetual death circle. We just keep falling further and further behind, and our roads get worse year after year.
Whenever Robert Berg brings up the sorry state of our roads when he speaks before the Village Board, he tells the Board it needs to issue municipal bonds to fund a strategic road repair campaign. He gets cheers from the audience. Yet, the Village Board refuses to do so on the misbegotten belief that fiscally responsible road repair must come from the operational budget and not be bonded.
So how do the Mayor and Trustees respond to this sorry state of affairs? Well, for starters, they deny that we have a major road condition problem at all. At the February 28, 2017 Village Board meeting, the Mayor said that complaints about our roads are overblown; only “some” are in bad shape, and he rattled off a list of roads that were repaired last year. What he fails to tell us is some of the newly-repaired roads, like Autenreith, were in horrendous shape for years — really a dangerous embarrassment in a location right in the Village center.
And shockingly, no one in the Village has any real idea of the state of our roads? Why is that? Because the last time the Village conducted a thorough survey of the state of Scarsdale Village roads was NINE years ago. How do we know that? At that very same Board meeting, Robert Berg asked our Village Manager for a copy of the latest road condition survey report. The next day he emailed it to him, and it is dated 2008.
According to our Mayor, we’ve just got to put up with it, because we don’t have the money to do more from our operational budget.
The solution to our very real road problem lies in the issuance of municipal bonds to fund an accelerated road repair program. We don’t need to go crazy on this program. We don’t need to repair all our roads in one year which is how some CNC supporters are misrepresenting our position. But we should start with a $4 million bond which would allow us to repair approximately 11.5 miles of road in one season. Interest rates are historically low still, and the underwriting costs of a $4 million 10 year AAA-rated municipal bond are trivial. Total cost of the debt service at current yields of 2.4% would be $454,677 per year. That’s less than one third of what the Village spent this past year on Village road repair. (Mayor Mark told us at the February 28, 2017 Board meeting that the Village had spent $1,465,000 in fiscal 2016/2017 to repair 4.15 miles of road and curbing). Although we’d have to pay $546,766 in interest over the 10 year repayment period, we’d be paying that interest with inflated dollars. Since inflation is expected to average around 2.5% per year over the next decade, the real rate of interest taxpayers would be paying on such a bond is essentially zero. To the Voters Choice Party candidates, bonding our road repairs in this manner is the best way out of this mess.