HONESDALE—Looking to address local in-need infrastructure, Honesdale Borough Council approved paving projects on Beechnut Drive and Johnson Lane, pending bid review by the borough solicitor and engineer.

The bids for these projects, together totaling $113,269, were awarded to E.R. Linde Construction at Monday's council meeting.

As earlier reported, Honesdale Borough has five streets in need of repaving: Holiday Drive, Johnson Lane, Beechnut Drive, Summit Drive and Wayne Street.

At the Borough's July meeting, Director Rich Doney of Honesdale's Department of Public Works (DPW) explained costs to repair these roads exceeds the funding available.

According to the bids opened on Monday, the lowest cost to pave all five roads would be $211,547.

For 2019, Honesdale had $40,000 of its state-dispensed Liquid Fuels account budgeted for paving.

Doney noted Monday night that he'd reached out to the Liquid Fuels representative at the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and was able to identify $80,000 in the budget which could be repurposed, pending Council's approval, for paving without compromising later expenditures for salt, cinders, and blacktop.

The reallocation was approved, netting $120,000 to put towards paving this year.

After some discussion, and as per Doney's advice, Council decided Johnson Lane and Beechnut Drive were the most in-need.

“When we plow those roads right now...there's mud coming through the roads,” said Doney. “And I patch, and patch, and patch.”

Council also decided Johnson Lane and Beechnut drive are ideal given the funding available as they do not have stormwater infrastructure to replace.

Council thought it best to address paving and stormwater infrastructure at the same time on roads which need both.

More information about stormwater projects discussed at Monday's meeting will be present in a future story.

The three roads unable to be addressed this year will be taken into consideration with the paving projects in cue for next year, which already total over $300,000.

“The rain is hurting us,” Doney explained, “We do maintain our roads, we do maintain our storm lines...These four-inch rains in a half hour is what hurts.”

Paying for paving

Moving into autumn, the Borough is beginning the process of formulating its 2020 budget, taking into consideration all the paving and stormwater projects in need of attention.

Council President Michael Augello noted Monday the Borough is in a tight spot having recently paid off its debt.

“Last year, there was the decision made to get this borough out of debt. We have no fund reserve. We have no money. We are broke as a borough, we discovered this year.

“We have to decide this year, if we are going to borrow, how much are we going to raise taxes?”

No immediate answers were brought forth nor decisions made, though Council discussed the possibility of applying for a loan through the PennVest program to address paving and stormwater management.

This state-borrowing program allows for financing over 20 years with lower interest rates than can be found in private banks.

In the past, paving projects have been supplemented with annual funding from the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG).

Currently, those funds from recent years are unavailable because the borough committed them to replacing the pedestrian bridge on Fifth Street, a $400,000 project with funds committed from 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 which needs to be completed by April 5, 2021.

The Borough had initially anticipated on completing the project in 2022, allowing a final allocation from 2020 to be added, but recent state changes to funding deadlines pushed the deadline up a year.

This in turn shorted the borough around $70,000, its typical annual CDBG allocation.

In attempt to remedy this, Council approved a secondary CDBG application through Wayne County's allocation pool following a public hearing on the matter which took place just before Monday's meeting.

Without additional grant funding, the Borough will have to allocate the remainder of the project cost from its General Fund.