LITTLE VALLEY – Economic conditions, paired with harsh temperatures over the past winter, have made things tough for the Cattaraugus County Department of Public Works. But it is finding ways to get the job done.
Public Works Commissioner Joseph Pillittere said, “In 1992, the public works budget made up about 21 percent of the total county. That amount has fallen to about 10 percent. That decrease is due to a lot of preliminary project work being done in-house.”
The county has been able to do a lot of business, both in the county and throughout the state, in making road signs. Those signs not only adorn the sides of roadways to direct drivers in the normal warnings, but also in making community organizational signs and special promotional signs. One such sign, a series of signs that will be at all the major entrances to the county, identify Cattaraugus County as a Purple Heart County, the first in the region.
Another reason for the decrease in the amount needed to keep the department afloat is the people, Pillittere said.
“We have good, dedicated people in the department that do what they can to save some money for us,” he said. “We have been able to come up with ways to save time and equipment to get the most out of the taxpayers’ dollars.”
Cattaraugus County can boast that 89 percent of the county-owned roads are rated as “fair.” The county owns 396 miles of road, 267 bridges, 274 culverts and 1,530 drainage structures.
To make sure that inventory is kept to the highest standard possible, the Public Works Department employs 127 full-time employees at five hubs spread throughout the county.
After the hard winter, a bumper crop of potholes is being repaired, work that will continue through the early summer. Recent rainstorms have made a messy situation of several areas of the county as well, including Gowanda, Randolph and South Valley. Damage estimates have been around the $6.8 million mark. That level does not reach federal aid levels through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, but it is high enough for the county to apply for state aid.
“In the past, the governor has come forward with funds to help in repairs like this,” Pillittere said. “We are in the process of figuring out what is needed and where our priority repairs are.”
In other department news, a measure to move the standard workweek to four 10-hour days has been approved by both the supervisory and general unions, 14 to 2 and 65 to 8, respectively.