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Cecil County Roads Need $2 Million in Urgent Storm Repairs; Broomell Objects to ‘Growing Government’ with Asphalt

March 19, 2014
By Nancy Schwerzler

It’s been a rough winter on Cecil County roads, as multiple snowstorms and freezing temperatures have buckled pavement and opened up crater-sized potholes on many streets and highways. So county roads officials are asking to tap reserve funds to pay for emergency repairs as well as new budgeting flexibility so that allocated funds don’t expire before the repairs can be made in spring and summer.

County Department of Public Works director Scott Flanigan and county Finance Director Winston Robinson explained the two-part initiative to the County Council at a Tuesday morning worksession, describing the plan as a more cost-efficient and work-efficient way of handling the damage inflicted by this winter’s non-stop battering of roadways.

The two officials proposed tapping $2 million of the county’s “fund balance” reserve funds, with $1.5 million used for pothole filling, “mill and patch” repairs of many damaged roads, and full reconstruction of four severely damaged roads. In addition, about $500,000 would be used to repair bus loops at several schools that are so damaged they pose a threat to school bus and student safety.

Flanigan emphasized that the project list drawn up by road officials is still growing, as new storms and freeze/thaw cycles in just the two weeks since his list was drawn up could require additional repair work. The four roads proposed for full reconstruction are Laurel Way, Edgar Price Road, Joe Meltz Road, and Cassidy Wharf Road.

Given the volume of repair work needed on many roads, the county could be up against both a fiscal and practical time crunch, Robinson said, because the county’s current budget year ends on June 30. So if the money he and Flanigan are asking for to do the emergency storm repairs is not spent by the end of June, under current procedures the money would revert to the county’s general fund and would not be available for paving.

Flanigan noted that asphalt plants that produce the needed paving and repair materials do not resume operations until the weather warms up and have not yet begun producing materials for what will be a jam-packed schedule of spring and summer paving jobs.

And the problems are compounded by the county having failed to keep up with needed road maintenance projects last year and in several previous years. Now, after the very harsh winter, the problems “are coming home to roost,” Flanigan said.

So a legislative proposal asking for the emergency repair funds includes provisions to create a “capital project fund” that would not expire at the end of the fiscal year and could continue to be tapped to complete the authorized projects.

“I have a very strong objection to creating this account,” declared County Councilor Diana Broomell (R-4). “It’s growing government,” she said, and she claimed county officials might “dip in” to the account for other unspecified projects.

But Robinson said the account would be limited to the repair and resurfacing projects needed to recover from the storms.

Inclusion of the county schools bus loop repaving—which would normally be handled by the schools’ own capital improvement and repair budget—was added to the DPW request because it would expedite the repairs to have one request for proposal bidding process rather than two.

Council President Robert Hodge (R-5) noted that the county would be competing with many private businesses this spring trying to get repair work done to recover from the brutal winter damage. “I think the paving companies are going to make out like bandits this year,” he observed.

During the County Council’s Tuesday evening meeting, at which the $2 million paving and fiscal accounting proposal was introduced as a legislative resolution, county Director of Administration Al Wein said the proposal was “a much more efficient” way of handling the roads problem and would “expedite repairs.” He noted that the county had spent just $1 million, derived from the Perryville casino revenues to the county, last year on road resurfacing.

“That’s a substantial increase,” Broomell said of the new $2 million proposal. “We’re not just filling potholes; we’re resurfacing roads.”

[UPDATE: Earlier this month, the Council approved an emergency measure to take another $400,000 from the county's "fund balance" reserve funds, to pay for the much higher than anticipated snow removal costs this winter, due to the multiple snow and ice storms of the season.]

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10 Responses to Cecil County Roads Need $2 Million in Urgent Storm Repairs; Broomell Objects to ‘Growing Government’ with Asphalt

  1. Rick O'Shea on March 19, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    Classic Broomell. She knows better than Public Works, Finance Department, Administration et cetera. She is in full campaign mode. Growing government? She wasn’t concerned about shrinking government when she killed the Artesian wastewater contract. June 24th can’t arrive soon enough!

  2. Mike R on March 19, 2014 at 3:51 pm

    Simple solution to appropriate the $2. million for road repairs, dismantle animal control which are in numerous breach of contract, and take that $2+ million and appropriate it towards roads. WIn win for the County.

  3. Too Much Government on March 19, 2014 at 3:57 pm

    It puzzles me that a county of this size (365 sq. miles) is not budgeting for emergency road repairs. But par for the course I suppose, since they think nothing of contracting with companies/organizations who continually breach their contract and seem to be paid much more than they are worth and still not perform their responsibilities.

    • Bob Laird on March 23, 2014 at 2:36 pm

      Ain’t this the truth! I still can’t grasp how B4L gets all that money for doing nothing? They are the Andrew Bynum of Dog Catchers.

  4. Duct Taper on March 19, 2014 at 5:55 pm

    Which councilperson clamors for a council auditor? Why that would be none other than Diana Broomell. Her hypocricy and audacity are off the charts. She wants to grow government but only if it is her way!

  5. Cranky on March 20, 2014 at 8:08 am

    Sounds like Broomell has joined the Campaign for Lunacy team. “Don’t repair, replace, or build anything, ever”. She probably wants to approve pothole repair locations so that “special interests” don’t benefit.

  6. Joe C on March 21, 2014 at 1:40 pm

    Better solution: Control the budget growth! Had T.Moore not raided the rainy day fund to “balance the budget” for two years running, there would be plenty of money for road repair, but her “Free Spending Three” (Hodge, Bowlsbey and McCarthy)puppets on the council have so far gone along with this charade of so called conservative government.

    The mantra of “moving the county forward” is getting old at this point, the only thing moving forward is a march towards higher taxes,fees and debt for Cecil County taxpayers. Hints of higher taxes already leaking out of the mouths of council members, just listen to last weeks evening council meeting and I heard it last night for one of the incumbent members of the council last night.

    It is interesting that those claiming to want to “move Cecil County forward” are aligned against Broomell and Dunn, who do not control the council actions. The Free Spending Three have the free will to do what actions they please at the taxpayers expense, but they want no one around who exposes their actions!

    • Brian Jackson on March 24, 2014 at 8:42 pm

      Joe, please show us a government budget that has not grown.

      The reality is the cost of goods and services increases every year.

      To deal with that reality, at home we prioritize, cut expenses where possible, and use savings when necessary.

      I see no evidence that Cecil County has not done the same thing.

      • Joe C on March 25, 2014 at 8:22 pm

        Brian,
        Explain to me why county budgets have exceeded the rate of inflation. Just look at this year, “3.5 Tari” gave a 3.5% increase to most departments, when inflation is less than that. Most county citizens did not receive that much of a pay raise, especially senior citizens on fixed or nearly fixed incomes. Look up and see what they got for an increase, like 1.8%. It is the rate of growth that is the real problem, not some growth which is reasonable.

  7. Duct Taper on March 25, 2014 at 9:54 pm

    Free spending three?News flash:It cost money to run a county!Clueless two:Dunn doesn’t crawl out of his cellar often enough to realize potholes exist and Broomnell charges us to drive around them.

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