Byram usually reserves $100,000 in the municipal budget for roads, but this year has a line item of $900,000 in its proposed budget. Councilman Raymond Bonker said the township can’t increase the line item by that much in one year, even with state grants.
In a Oct. 20 discussion of the township’s 2021 Streets and Roads Projects, the council considered borrowing to meet the township’s needs.
Bonker said around 25 percent of the money the township spends on roads comes from state grants. Road projects for next year could cost $1 million to $1.1 or even $1.2 million, he said.
Roads are one of the most basic services that Byram provides, Bonker said.
Township Manager Joseph Sabatini provided the council with the last 11 years of spending on roads, which he appreciated backward and forward. He also provided the pavement condition index of all township roads.
Bonker discussed an overall strategy of borrowing: the township could bond for the municipal building, roads, fire truck, and CO Johnson Park renovation. Bonker said that, according to the auditor, Byram’s overall level of indebtedness is fairly low.
Sabatini said the township does raise $100,000 in the operating portion of the budget and $100,000 in capital. The cost of borrowing money is cheaper now, he said, and if the township bonded, the council would need to establish a capital strategy with the right balance.
A large number of street and road projects, capital projects, and the municipal building would make an attractive option on the market, Sabatini said. He said debt schedules need to meet the life expectancy of a particular item, such as the fire truck.
Councilwoman Cris Franco agreed the township needs to be proactive with streets and road projects because fixing roads after problems arise costs more. Providing infrastructure is a top priority, she said, but the township must also keep projects affordable and maintainable.