LaVigne hopeful for more CHIPS funding

Essex County officials are hopeful that the state will provide more funding for highway projects in the new budget.

Public Works Commissioner Anthony LaVigne said that recent lobbying efforts on the part of county and town highway departments had been fruitful as both the state Assembly and Senate have presented resolutions to increase Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS) funding through the state Department of Transportation.

"We are urging the state to approve the $100 million increase to CHIPS funding," LaVigne said. "If that were approved, it would mean that there would be a $400-450,000 increase for the county and $10,000 or more increase for towns. It could mean anywhere between a 20 to 25 percent increase for both towns and counties if the state increases the funding by $100 million."

During the March 18 Public Works Committee meeting, LaVigne also sought to replace an on-call night watchman position, a hire which had been approved by the board five weeks earlier.

"The one employee resigned, so they needed to bring it up again," LaVigne said. "We had brought this up to the board five weeks ago and you had approved it then, but now we have to come back."

"It was moved five weeks ago to replace this person," Chesterfield Supervisor Gerald Morrow said. "I asked why it needed to be brought back up if we had already filled it."

LaVigne also reported that the new Otis Bridge had been installed in New Russia with further work to continue when the weather allowed. He also said that work on the pillars in front of the county offices would continue when "the weather breaks."

"We are waiting for better weather. There are materials that they need to use that are weather sensitive," he said.

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