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New York mayors call for regular funding of water, sewer projects

A low angle of a road with cones broken open for construction.
Vaughn Golden
A section of the road is exposed for sewer maintenance.

Mayors across New York are calling for regular funding for local water and sewer infrastructure projects to be included in the state budget.

The proposal, called the Safe Water Infrastructure Action Program or SWAP, would have a regular formula for the state to divvy up funding for municipalities that maintain their own water and sewer infrastructure. That funding is currently provided through a series of grants.

Binghamton Mayor Jared Kraham is one of over 300 mayors in the state to sign onto a letter penned by the New York Conference of Mayors asking Gov. Kathy Hochul and legislative leaders to include the program in the state budget.

"It would ensure our public water systems are safe, we have clean safe drinking water, we have ability to deal with sanitary sewer, we have ability to deal with stormwater, and New York state making investments that residents want to see,” Kraham said.

Kraham added that administering funding this way would help municipalities better predict how much funding will be available and help smaller towns and villages avoid some of the administrative costs that come with securing and carrying out grants.

The SWAP proposal is modeled after the CHIPS program which provides state funding for road and bridge repairs in a similar fashion.

State Senator Lea Webb (D-52) pointed out that funding water and sewer infrastructure projects at the state level also helps reduce local property tax burdens.

“The Safe Water Infrastructure Action Program will protect our residents from bearing the burden of paying for updates to our aging and deteriorating water infrastructure by providing much-needed state funding to municipalities,” Webb wrote in a statement to WSKG. “I will keep fighting to include this funding in our final state budget because it is critical that we help municipalities update our water infrastructure so that we can head off systemic failures that endanger our environment, health, and economy.”

Binghamton Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo also cosponsors the legislation in the Assembly and said she would appreciate seeing it in the budget as well.

“New York has some of the oldest water infrastructure in the country, with cost estimates in the billions for basic improvements,” Lupardo wrote. “It’s crucial that municipalities have a dedicated and predictable funding stream for repairs and upgrades; similar to the popular CHIPS program used for local road construction and repair. I support the SWAP proposal being included in the state budget and am a co-sponsor of legislation in the Assembly that advocates for a similar approach.”

Negotiations over the state budget are continuing. Hochul told reporters Wednesday they could proceed well into next week.

This story was produced by WSKG.