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DiNapoli: municipal spending on infrastructure declines in NYS, not meeting needs

Local government capital spending on roads, bridges, and water and sewer systems in the Empire State declined about 8 percent between 2010 and 2012.

That’s according to a reportthat New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli issued this week.

After a review of infrastructure studies, DiNapoli’s office estimates that municipalities in New York state should be spending about $3.9 billion annually to keep up with deteriorating capital assets.


However, the report found that local governments in the state are spending only about $1.2 billion, representing less than one third of what is necessary, DiNapoli’s office contended in a news release.

DiNapoli’s report found that local governments, excluding New York City, spent $927 million on roads and bridges in 2012, down by $49 million, or 5 percent, from 2010.

A 2013 study projected local transportation needs would total about $35 billion through 2030, which would require municipalities to spend an average of $2.3 billion on roads and bridges annually, DiNapoli’s office said.

Besides transportation needs, the decline in local-government spending on water and sewer systems was “significant.”

In 2012, municipalities spent a combined $291 million on those systems, which is $69 million, or 19 percent, less than the $360 million spent in 2010, according to DiNapoli’s office.

Individually, local governments spent $47 million, or 35 percent less, on water systems during that time frame and spending on sewer systems totaled $22 million, or 10 percent less.

Estimates calculate the annual investment needs in local water systems at $535 million and local sewer systems at $1 billion, DiNapoli’s office said.

The declines reflect, in part, the phase-out of additional funding that the federal economic-stimulus law of 2009 provided for local governments, the office added.

Local-government officials also cite the rising costs of needed materials such as asphalt, fuel, steel and other construction items as “major impediments” to infrastructure investment as well as spending restraints from the state’s property-tax cap.

Severe weather-related disasters have also “negatively impacted” municipal-infrastructure spending in recent years, the DiNapoli report said.

The costs for cleanup and repairs “erode” monies that could have been otherwise spent on infrastructure maintenance and improvements, his office said.

To help alleviate the pressure on municipalities, DiNapoli made a number of recommendations to local officials

He suggested local governments identify long-term and short-term infrastructure needs using a “comprehensive” capital-planning process, and then work with the applicable state agencies to coordinate their approach to address the needs.

DiNapoli also suggests partnering with state policymakers and working with federal agencies to develop strategies for providing additional funding for water, sewer, and transportation systems.

In addition, the state comptroller advises seeking additional grant funding and state and federal expertise as a component of the local capital-planning process.

DiNapoli also suggests exploring the potential of public-private partnerships to address specific infrastructure needs.

Contact Reinhardt at


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