Street repairs safe; fire funds uncertain

By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers

TAYLOR — Long-needed local road improvements continued in the city last week, despite speculations that the federal government
shutdown might put a halt to available funds — notably the city’s Federal Emergency Management Agency’s “Safer Staffing” grant that kept 30 firefighters on salary.

Mayor Jeffrey Lamarand said the city had been able to absorb the most recent pay period for the firefighters that earlier this year returned to duty courtesy of the grant. The cost for the firefighters, Lamarand said, is between $50,000 and $60,000 every two weeks — not counting benefits — and an invoice sent in late September had yet to be paid.

FEMA contacts were “on furlough until further notice,” Lamarand said. “We’re concerned with the ramifications because of that.” The city is currently collecting taxes and able to cover the costs, but city officials may have to consider options should the federal closure continue.

Local projects such as concrete replacements were unaffected, Lamarand said. Contractors are winding down for the season
a $1.2 million road improvement project paid for by state Act 51 funds from transportation and gas taxes. Residential roads including Beverly, Joan, Champaign, Pinecrest and Avalon were among this year’s projects, and Lamarand said that the city anticipates similar funds next year and beyond.

“It’s all needed work and it’s going to be an annual event for the foreseeable future,” Lamarand said. Work will soon halt for the winter but will continue in spring. “It’s always about spending the money in the right places: money comes in to take care of the roads and the focus is to get it where it’s needed most.”

(James Mitchell can be reached at jmitchell@bewickpublications.com.)

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