Steuben, Chemung to share highway equipment

Mary Perham
Vince Spagnoletti

Plans to buy new Steuben County highway equipment also could lead to a shared service with neighboring Chemung and reduced long-term highway repair costs.

The county Legislature’s Public Works Committee last week agreed to seek bids on a grinder, with cost estimates ranging between $800,000 and $900,000.

County Public Works Commissioner Vincent Spagnoletti told the committee payments for the major piece of equipment would likely amount to $130,000 a year over seven years.

The grinder has a life expectancy of 20 years, with the total cost of purchasing, operating and maintaining the equipment averaging $100,000 year, Spagnoletti said.

Steuben now pays $126,000 for up to 30 days to lease a grinder, which is used extensively in rebuilding roads.

Chemung County officials could lease the grinder for $3,500 a day, for up to 30 days – far less than the cost of renting the equipment from a contractor, Spagnoletti said.

While Chemung’s payments would help defray the cost, the grinder could help the county if highway funding is decreased, according to county Administrator Mark Alger.

“Do this because you think this would benefit the county, not because it may bring in more money,” Alger told the committee. “This would save us money both ways.”

Both Alger and Spagnoletti have said the state may cut its Capital Highway Improvement (CHIPS) funds. This year, the county will receive $450,000 from the state for road construction and repair.

The 2 percent property tax cap approved by the state Legislature and governor also could mean Steuben will be forced to spend less to repair 645 miles of county roads.

The grinder would allow the department to fix more roads at a lower price and extend road use by several years, Spagnoletti said.

“The grinder would help keep roads passable,” he said. “It’s really insurance against the catastrophe of less money for our roads.”