Shelton voters being asked to approve $5 million for roads

Shelton voters will be asked to approve $5 million in bonding this fall to pave and rebuild municipal roads.

The Board of Aldermen has unanimously approved a bond referendum question that will appear on the ballot in the Nov. 4 election.

The city has spent $11.5 million on upgrading roads since 2008, with $11 million of that coming through three referendum approvals by voters in recent years, according to Shelton officials.

But the officials said more money is needed so more roads can be paved. Expenses, such as the cost of asphalt, have been on the increase.

“Rebuilding roads is an expensive proposition,” Mayor Mark Lauretti said. “We have 200 miles of roads and some haven’t been touched in 30 years.”

'Turn our attention to our roads'

Lauretti said he hopes people will support the new bonding because many roads need to be repaired and paved.

“The last 20 years we’ve spent a lot of money on our schools, and now it’s time to turn our attention to our roads,” he said of infrastructure projects.

Aldermanic President John Anglace said despite the investment made in roads during the past six years or so, there is additional work to do. “More roads need to be done,” Anglace said.

He said it’s important not to create a gap in road work funding, because too often the work begins and then has to stop for the lack of money before the warm-weather season is over. “They get going and we shut them down,” Anglace said.

'They see the work getting done'

Anglace urged residents to support the bonding request. “Voters have graciously approved this in the past because they see the work getting done,” he said.

Alderman Jack Finn said the funding is needed although some people have questions about how priorities will be set for spending it.

“Some want more information from the city, such as what roads are the most important and what roads will be addressed,” said Finn, the only Democratic alderman.

Road paving budget depleted

The issue of road paving had come up during a Board of Aldermen meeting in August, when $400,000 in new funding was unanimously approved. The city’s road-paving budget had been almost depleted at the time, with only $8,000 left.

Questions were raised at the meeting about how the city was spending the money.

Anglace distributed a memo from city Public Works Director Paul DiMauro that provided a breakdown of how the $5 million in road bonding from the most recent referendum, in late 2012, had been spent.

“It is our responsibility to let people know what we do with their money,” Anglace said.

Some aldermen said they wanted more detailed information.

Lauretti said at the meeting that the city has a deliberative process for choosing what roads will be upgraded and — unlike the state and federal governments — can’t spend money like crazy.

Anglace said what roads will be improved is evaluated annually by DiMauro, Lauretti and the Board of Aldermen’s Street Committee.

Finn said not regularly paving roads can be costly, leading to constant maintenance issues such as filling potholes.

Anglace noted roads can be upgraded in different ways — some are completely rebuilt through milling and paving, some have only sections rebuilt, and others may receive more targeted actions such as crack-sealing and road-leveling (skid paving).

Most of the work is done by city public works staff but some outside contractors are used as well.

Wording of referendum question

The referendum question that will appear on the Nov. 4 ballot will read as follows:

“Shall the resolution entitled ‘Resolution Appropriating $5,000,000 for the Reconstruction and Resurfacing of Roads in the City of Shelton and Authorizing the Issuance of $5,000,000 Bonds of the City to Meet Said Appropriation and Pending the Issuance Thereof the Making of Temporary Borrowings for Such Purpose,’ adopted by the Board of Aldermen on September 3, 2014, be approved?”