By Connor Linskey
After there were no comments during the public hearing, the Shawangunk Town Board promptly adopted the 2021 budget at their meeting Thursday.
The adopted budget remains largely unchanged from the preliminary budget. The only differences were that the town board lowered the fund balance for the highway fund by $30,000 and the amount budgeted for snow removal by $30,000. In total, there is $2,260,689 in the highway budget and $70,000 budgeted for snow removal.
“See we can’t buy salt with next year’s budget until January,” said Shawangunk Town Supervisor John Valk Jr. “This is a way we can buy in November for the winter season.”
The money will also be used to purchase sand for the roads.
Valk noted that developing the highway fund balance was a stressful process.
“The state has been cutting back on their assistance to us, so we have to dig deeper into our pockets and it’s frustrating on the local level,” Valk said. “We have a lot of roads, we have over 90 miles of roads to maintain. It’s a money pit, that’s what I call it. But we have to keep the roads safe and we have to keep them clear in the winter time.”
Highway Superintendent Joseph LoCicero stated that the department is preparing for winter. Plows are currently being set up, sanders are being cleaned and workers are preparing for the challenges ahead. The department will try to purchase salt within the next few weeks.
“I have a feeling that early winter will be the worst part of the winter, with the ice,” LoCicero said.
He added that he is looking into purchasing a new loader. LoCicero noted that the department will soon have the money to do that, as they have nearly paid off one of their trucks. In addition, the department has used its current loader for approximately 20 years and it is beginning to break down.
The loader is an essential piece of equipment for the department, as it helps load salt and sand during the winter in addition to picking up trees after storms.
LoCicero hopes to purchase the new loader next year. He plans to keep using the current loader until it no longer functions. It would load salt and sand, while the new loader would be used for everything else.