An $8.5 million plan to improve a number of roadways throughout the municipality was recently introduced by the township committee as part of what officials called a “five-year roadway plan.”
According to the proposed ordinance, which was unanimously approved for introduction during the Aug. 14 township committee meeting, officials have appropriated the aforementioned $8.5 million. That figure includes a $425,000 down payment, as required by local bond law.
Mayor Gloria McCauley said the planned resurfacing and overlay of township roads was necessary after “severe weather with increased snow and freezing temperatures” took their toll on the pavement.
“The aging infrastructure of our township needs to be addressed,” she said said. “It is in the best interest of the Township to pursue funding for these improvements.”
In order to pay for the projects, the township is taking out $8.075 million in bonds. Deputy Mayor Doug Tomson said the township determined how much to borrow was based on the state’s two-percent tax levy cap and how to keep annual costs within that limit.
Pointing to the township’s AA+ credit bond rating, Committeeman Frank DelCore touted the governing body’s focus on “fiscal responsibility” as the main reason why it was able to borrow the funds.
“By being judicious in what we’ve done with our budgets, our spend levels and debt levels, it affords us the opportunity to take advantage of the opportunities to take on some debt when it’s needed,” DelCore said. “It’s certainly a significant amount of money, but we have a significant amount of roads that need to be done. Trying to do it out of a normal budget process, given our cap limitations, becomes unfeasible at times.”
Looking back over the last decade, McCauley said the township has repaved 14 roads stretching 20.33 miles. In that same amount of time, she said Hillsborough has regularly conducted “an extensive chip sealing program which enhances the longevity of the roadway” on more than 20 miles of road.
With an average of $330,000 spent over the last 11 years through state Department of Transportation grants and municipal funding, McCauley estimated this new project “would have taken over 25 years at the current spending level.”
Officials said they wanted to act now, rather than wait for roads to get worse. One reason, according to Committeeman Carl Suraci, was an effort to lock costs in at today’s value, since costs are anticipated to go up in the coming years.
“It’s best to try to get these costs incurred now than later because there are pressures on those cost drivers that are not going to make it any cheaper to do this,” Suraci said. “It’s best to preserve these roads, because if we do allow them to get to a certain state, it will be a significantly higher cost to do a full repaving of those roads.”
While the township only has the ability to address its own roadways, McCauley said the municipality plans to reach out to the state and county to improve the roads under their jurisdiction.
A public hearing and final vote on the proposed ordinance will take place at the next township committee meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 11.